Courts attitude to litigants in person

This is a rare example, in terms of case law at least, of sexual orientation discrimination. It is also an example of the court’s attitude towards litigants in person. Mr Kedziora, the Claimant worked as a cleaner for Servest Group, the Respondent, who provide cleaning services for numerous companies. The Claimant is gay and had disclosed this to his employer.

The Claimant was involved in several incidents where his sexuality was referred to in a derogatory way, including being told to suck male genitalia, and his complaints about this to a manager were ignored. The Respondent also informed one of their clients that the Claimant was gay without his consent and a fellow employee alleged that the Claimant made a homophobic remark.

The Claimant lodged a claim against the Respondent. When filling out the claim form the Claimant ticked a box confirming he had been discriminated against on the grounds of his sexual orientation. The ET held that the incidents cited above did not amount to sufficient grounds for a claim and it was struck out.

The Claimant appealed and the EAT allowed the appeal. It held that there was sufficient information to pursue the claim and the ET had erred in law by rejecting it. This case highlights, particularly when dealing with litigants in person, that the Tribunal will take a common sense approach to dealing with claims and that litigants in person will be given significant leeway when dealing with court procedural rules.

Any employer that is fighting a self-represented claimant must accept that it will not necessarily be the same as fighting a normal tribunal claim and that the language and legal terms used will not be as specific and well defined.