Right to be Accompanied

No newsletter would be complete without a sensationalist tale of ridiculous proportions. This month’s jape takes the form of a bus driver who was awarded a pitiful £2 by the ET following a successful right to be accompanied claim.

In Gnahoua v Abellio London Ltd – an employer who has also been involved in a recent rest breaks EAT claim – the Claimant faced disciplinary action following reports he had looked at his iPad whilst driving a bus. The Claimant wished to take two brothers as union reps from the recently formed PTSC union.

The Respondent said the brothers could not attend due to previous foul language and threatening behaviour as well as a separate ET claim by one of the brothers which was struck out due to accusations they falsified the date on a witness statement.

The Respondent said the Claimant could take another rep from PTSC but he attended alone and was dismissed. His ET claim for unfair dismissal was unsuccessful but the ET held that as he had technically been denied representation and the right to be accompanied claim should be upheld.

However, due to the reasonable reservations the Respondent had about the chosen reps character the ET awarded £2. Despite the derisory award this claim shows that if a rep meets the statutory definition – a colleague or trade union rep – then the choice of companion should be the employees and employers will be liable if they try to restrict the employee’s choice.