January 31, 2016

Moorepay successful against major tribunal claim

We recently represented a major food processing company in an Employment Tribunal claim and were successful in defending the claim, avoiding an award that could have run into tens of thousands of pounds.

Although the organisation, as with many organisations this size, had some experience of Employment Tribunals, it was nevertheless in need of our guidance and assistance through the process.

The claim concerned the posting, on social media sites, disparaging and derogatory statements by one of its employees.

The case was extremely important to the organisation who wanted to demonstrate that its policies in respect of the use of social media were both reasonable and enforceable.

The claims against the business were Unfair Dismissal, Breach of Contract (Notice Pay) and Holiday Pay.

Preparation

Throughout the preparation of the case, we supported the organisation in all aspects, including:

  • Case management to preparatory steps including the preparation of document bundles and witness statements;
  • Discussion and advice upon the relevance of documents;
  • Employment Tribunal procedure and compliance with Tribunal Orders;
  • Witness preparation and discussion of what lines of questioning to expect;
  • Interactive Q&A.

Hearing

The Claim was heard in late 2015 the Magistrate’s Court (since many of the Tribunals have moved to other premises in the Judicial System) and each of our client’s witnesses were prepared and supported throughout.

As our client dismissed the Claimant, our client gave evidence first and was given that the outcome of the case was far from certain, the cross examination of our witnesses went on for quite some time. Nevertheless, the were able to stand up to the questioning and were well equipped, given the preparation we’d put in place.

Following their evidence, it was the Claimant’s turn to give evidence, and our Advocate’s opportunity to pose some difficult questions for the Claimant.

Planned and skilful cross examination allowed us to elicit information helpful to our client’s case, and this was a relatively rare case in which the Judge felt able to deliver Judgment immediately after the evidence, in particular having heard the evidence given by the Claimant under cross examination.

Outcome

The Employment Tribunal Judge determined that the Claimant had indeed committed Gross Misconduct by his/her comments on social media, and accordingly, concluded that our client was acting reasonably in dismissing the Claimant.

Given the importance of the subject matter, and the exposure that can come with losing an employment tribunal case, our client was delighted to win the case, and felt much more confident in enforcing its social media policies moving forward.

Summary

Even large organisations with internal HR and personnel support can benefit from assistance with the Employment Tribunal cases, which can be both procedurally complicated and emotionally demanding.

They can also take up an awful lot of time, and we try to absorb as much of the burden as possible in both preparation for and attendance at the hearing.

This was a great example of us being able to provide value to our clients and secure an outcome that they were extremely keen to achieve.

If you need help or advice on how to handle difficult HR situations, contact us to find out what Moorepay can do for you.

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About the author

Andrew Weir

Andrew has a wealth of experience in advising and representing clients of all shapes and sizes in a range of Employment Law topics from unfair dismissal through to all forms of discrimination and the complexities of TUPE. Andrew heads up our Advice Line and Advocacy teams who provide Employment Law advice to our clients 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and support our clients in presenting defences at Employment Tribunals throughout the UK & Ireland.