Welcome back to our monthly newsletter.  In case you missed February’s edition, you can click here to read it.  This month we look at a Claimant who would’ve won her claim for sexual harassment, victimisation and discrimination, if she hadn’t destroyed evidence before her remedy hearing, we will also look at whether a serial complainer can be fairly dismissed and on the lighter side of the news, we look at a heartfelt story of the widowed swan, Blossom, who found a second chance at love after staff created her a dating profile.

Claimant Who Destroyed Evidence Before Damages Hearing Gets Her Claim Struck Out

In the case of Kaur v Sun Mark Ltd and others, the Claimant had successfully shown the Employment Tribunal (ET) that she was a victim of sexual harassment, discrimination, and victimisation.  Following an appeal by the Respondent on the Victimisation claim, the Respondent sometime in May 2021, requested disclosure to re-visit the evidence by having an expert investigate the Claimant’s evidence.  The application for disclosure was for the Claimant’s mobile phone and notebook which contained recorded conversations with the Respondent.

However, the Claimant had failed to inform the Respondent or the ET until 30 October 2022, the day before the Preliminary Hearing, that both the notebook and the mobile phone had been destroyed.

As a result, the ET had struck out the Claimant’s claim of £673,000.

The Claimant appealed the ET’s decision.

The Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) had to determine whether the ET’s decision was fair.

The Claimant’s credibility was undermined when her recollection of what happened to the notebook and the mobile phone, varied from her previous explanation during an extensive cross examination.

The Claimant initially stated that her fiancé destroyed the notebook when he read the contents because he was upset with what she had written.  She later said that her husband destroyed the notebook because she wanted to get on with her life.  Further, the Judge questioned the Claimant’s conduct because she failed to tell the Respondents that she had destroyed the notebook while she knew they wanted to re-inspect it.

In addition to the notebook, the Claimant’s account for destroying the phone changed from it containing intimate pictures and memories, to the fact that it was ‘old and had a cracked screen’.

The EAT held the phone and the notebook were important factors to consider when assessing the level of damages awarded to the Claimant.  One of the points the Judge made was, if the Claimant had written in the notebook about her feelings and/or her mental health, this would have been important to determine the level of compensation  she would have been awarded.  The EAT drew inferences from the Claimant’s conduct to purposely preventing a further investigation from taking place. Such conduct made it impossible for a fair trial of a remedy hearing due to the Claimant’s suspicious conduct.

Consequently, the EAT dismissed the appeal.


Can You Be Dismissed For Being A Serial Complainer?

The Court of Appeal are set to hear the appeal of Hope v British Medical Association (BMA) this year.

The Claimant, during the course of his employment, had made numerous grievances against his senior managers which, in turn led to his dismissal for gross misconduct. Each time the Claimant made a grievance, he refused to progress the grievances at a formal level or withdrew them.  The Claimant was made aware that he could face disciplinary action if his claims were found to be ‘frivolous’ or ‘vexatious’. In response to this, the Claimant filed another grievance.

Following this, the Claimant was invited to attend a ‘reasonable management instruction,’  which he refused to attend.  At this point, he was dismissed for gross misconduct and abusing the process as his grievances were found to be ‘frivolous and vexatious’.

The Employment Tribunal (ET) and the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) both found the decision of the BMA to be fair and lawful due to the conduct of the Claimant throughout the grievance process.

The significance of the case:

This case clarifies the position of employers when handling a difficult serial complainer in the workplace.  In this case, the Claimant’s conduct undermined the grievance process.

Protection for employers:

According to the Tribunal, as long as employers have taken a range of reasonable responses to accommodate the serial complainer for previous grievances, then their choice of dismissing a serial complainer may be considered fair by the Tribunal. In this case, the employer exhausted their options of reasonable responses to the Claimant’s numerous grievances which amounted to his dismissal being justified.

If you or someone you know has faced a similar issue to the ones mentioned above, please don’t hesitate to reach out to a member of our team for assistance.

Lighter Side of the News – Cemetery Workers Play Matchmaker for Lonely Swan

To end your week with a bit of positivity, we have a heartwarming story making headlines of the lonely-widowed Swan, Blossom, finding another chance of love after staff at the cemetery created her a dating profile.

Previously, Blossom lived with her partner Bud for 5 years on the edge of the cemetery.  The pair of geese were always by each other’s side wandering around the cemetery looking for food.  However, unfortunately, Bud was killed by a wild animal, leaving Blossom wandering sadly around the cemetery on her own. Blossom reportedly seemed to walk past the office window and stare at her reflection as well as displaying other signs of grief and deep sadness.

Staff at Riverside Cemetery posted an advert, stating the widowed swan, Blossom was looking for ‘a life partner for companionship.’

Not long after the advert of Blossom was posted, a couple reached out to staff about their widowed male goose, Frankie.  The pair first met on Valentines Day and shortly after meeting, the pair wandered off together. Since then, the pair have been inseparable.  They both now live together at the Cemetery and have created a new life together.