Tribunal watch: Employment tribunals get tough on early conciliation requirement

One claim was rejected due to an incorrect early conciliation number.

Two recent employment tribunal decisions, upheld by the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT), suggest that tribunals will take a dim view of claimants who do not follow the Acas early conciliation procedure to the letter. Stephen Simpson rounds up employment tribunal decisions reported in the past week.

Early conciliation certificate required even when conciliation is impossible
In Cranwell v Cullen, the EAT held that a tribunal was right to reject a claim where the claimant had not contacted Acas under the early conciliation procedure.

Shortly after early conciliation became compulsory, the claimant sought to bring an employment tribunal claim for sexual harassment against her former employer. Her allegations were very serious, including a claim that she had been physically assaulted.

She did not comply with the requirement to follow the early conciliation procedure, on the basis that she simply could not conciliate with her former employer.

The EAT upheld the employment tribunal decision, stressing that the requirement for claimants to follow the early conciliation procedure is strict, even in cases where conciliation would be impossible.

Incorrect Acas early conciliation number on ET1 leads to claim rejection
In Sterling v United Learning Trust, the EAT refused to allow a claim to proceed where it was submitted shortly before the time limit ran out, but rejected because of an incorrect early conciliation number being entered on the ET1.

Early conciliation: the procedure

From 6 May 2015, before submitting a relevant claim to the employment tribunal, a prospective claimant must contact Acas so that claims can be settled where possible, without the need to go to an employment tribunal. The procedure requires an early conciliation certificate to submit a tribunal claim.

The claimant brought various employment tribunal claims. She submitted her ET1 form a few days before the time limit ran out.

The employment tribunal rejected the ET1 form because it contained an incorrect early conciliation number. By the time she received the form back from the tribunal to resubmit it, her claims were out of time.

The EAT agreed with the employment tribunal’s decision, stressing that it was the claimant’s responsibility to check that the information was correct before the claim was presented.

However, the EAT suggested that a claimant in this situation could make an application for reconsideration to the tribunal.

Other tribunal decisions in the headlines

Gay police officer friend of Michael Barrymore wins discrimination case
An employment tribunal has ruled that a gay police officer who was friends with Michael Barrymore was subjected to discrimination, harassment and victimisation while working for the Metropolitan Police, according to the Evening Standard.

Ongoing caste discrimination case hit with costs claim
A former practice manager who accused a firm of solicitors for discriminating because he married a woman of a higher Asian caste than himself has made a costs claim of £120,000 against his former employers, even though the case was abandoned, says Solicitors Journal.

Care worker wins £8,000 from text pest boss
A care worker who received a string of sexually explicit text messages from her boss has won her case for sexual harassment and discrimination, reports the Scottish Herald.

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