HR professionals should rely on their instincts when faced with a tribunal claim they believe is dubious, according to the lawyer who has compiled a list of serial litigants to help employers.
Gordon Turner, co-founder of Partners Employment Lawyers, has drawn up a 30-person list of serial claimants, with one man alone believed to have been involved in 150 allegations of discrimination.
Turner told Personnel Today that the problem of vexatious claims, often related to the use of phrases in recruitment adverts such as ‘recent graduate’ or ‘school-leaver’, was becoming an epidemic, with employers contacting him on a weekly basis.
“Everyone who has contacted us has seen their instinct proved correct,” he said. “People need to be aware that this is going on, so they dont fall into the trap.”
A serial litigant will launch a choreographed and structured campaign, beginning with a discrimination claim before following this up with a compromise suggestion involving a payment, typically between £500 and £2,000, Turner said. He advised HR professionals not to get involved in any sort of dispute with claimants as it plays into their hands.
For an employer to have any chance of striking out an employment tribunal claim, they need to present the judge with solid data, Turner advised.
“In one case we showed that the man had put through 35 cases under his name and had not turned up for 80% of them,” he said.
He has launched a service for employers facing claims, offering them a background search on claimants at a cost of £99. However, under the Data Protection Act, he is not allowed to maintain a database of serial litigants.
Turner has asked the Ministry of Justice and the Tribunals Service to consider reforms to deal with multiple claims, although he admitted that there was no prospect of any change to the law.