Employment Tribunal Hearing - Advice(26 Posts)
I have an employment tribunal hearing due to commence at the end of this month. I was hopeful it would be resolved prior to the hearing, but it now looks set to proceed. Wondering if anyone has been in a similar situation and has any words of advice for the forthcoming tribunal and what to expect.
A little bit of background - I was made redundant days before I was due to return to work last year, this was following a restructure which occurred during my maternity leave which created new positions within the organisation. I was not consulted on the restructure or the new roles.
Any words of advice on what to expect at the tribunal would be appreciated....
They have to PROVE that you would have been made redundant ANYWAY and that the way you were viewed in the restructuring was in no way linked to you being on maternity leave.
IF everyone else WAS consulted about the restructuring, and you weren't, then this difference of treatment should form a key part of your case. Tribunals are non-confrontational, you will be given the opportunity to speak to the panel. Write and craft a written statement, and include any "evidence gaps" that you are aware of in the that statement.
"I feel this is unfair" isn't good enough. "This process was unfair because I wasn't consulted, whereas everyone else at my grade was consulted, and this is causally linked to my maternity leave, therefore it is discrimination and unlawful/unfair" is a far strong statement. Do this time and time again, the burden of proof is on them. Give the tribunal questions to ask that the employer wont be able to answer.
You have to prove that something happened which coukd be explained by discrimination, and then the employer has to prove it wasn't because of discrimination.
Each side can call witnesses who can be questioned by both sides and the tribunal.
If you are not represented , the tribunal judge should tell you what is happening and what to do next (but not which questions to ask) and at the end you will sum up your arguments.
In your case it might be useful to explore the "but for" argument - "but for the pregnancy/mat leave you would have been in work, therefore consulted like all the others, therefore had a chance for redeployment etc". Also, women on mat leave have additional protection and should get priority for redeployments so they may have failed on both counts.
Thank you ClearlyDad & Hermione for your advice and encouragement. I will take your advice on board.
Feeling nervous as the date of the hearing approaches (guess this is only natural), but believe my case to be strong.....
Drifa, Check out the list of ET cases in your area and where yours is going to be held. They are open to the public and it is worth you sitting in on one before your own hearing.
Thanks for the recommendation Jamie. ET is due to start at the end of next week, so may not have time to do this - but will check to see if feasible.
Thank you for all the advice.
Four days of hearing complete, with two additional days added for completion in June. Glad that the process is underway, and so far, it seems to be going OK.
If anyone else is in a similar situation and about to undertake a hearing I am more than happy to give a 'few pointers' I have gained from my own experience so far. It is daunting, but I'm glad I've stuck with it.
Again, thanks for the advice given.
Pleased to hear that you got through the ET Drifa and fingers crossed for June, I hope you get a positive outcome. Let us know how you get on!
Drifa, I'm seriously considering taking my current employer to an ET.
Any tips/ advice you could share with me would be greatly appreciated.
Well done on getting through the bulk of it. I hope it goes in your favour.
Drifa, fingers crossed for the hearing in June. I am in a similar position so if you can, please share some advice and tips.
Oops sorry, that'll teach me to read the thread to the end. You're practically done! Glad its going well.
Smox and ItsallisnowaFeegle. - Please let me know what advice and tips you are after and if my experience to date can help you I'll give you my feedback. I also have some learnings on the procedure which I would be happy to share if you are at the ET stage and proceeding to a hearing. In the meantime, here are some general thoughts which may be helpful:
I am pleased that I have pursued the case to this point - however, given the timescales involved from lodging an ET1 form (the legal document submitted to the employment tribunal office (ET) notifying that you wish to proceed with a claim) to the case being heard and completed, I can understand why many individuals decide to settle with the other party - often for a lower sum than anticipated. I lodged my ET1 in early Dec 2012 and as noted I am still at the 'liability stage' 6 months on - therefore the process is long, costly and stressful at times.
To begin with, I would recommend anyone thinking about this course of action should take independent legal advice. You need to see a solicitor that knows employment law, and will be truthful about the merit of your claim. No win no fee arrangements are not helpful at this stage.
I took legal advice at a very early stage - and I am glad that I did. I would not have known how strong my case was, or even what documentation was important, and would not have had all the information to hand to lodge the case.
Truth be told, from a purely financial perspective I did consider representing myself at the hearing - mainly as so many websites say this is feasible and the process is geared to being far less informal than a court of law. However, my experience has been that the ET hearings are quite formal, follow legal rules, and without any prior knowledge of the system I believe it would be daunting.
Constructing the legal arguments, especially on discrimination on the grounds of maternity has been very complex. Even remembering what evidence has been led by either side over a 5-6 day hearing is not straightforward. Cross-examination is extremely difficult, even with a experienced litigation lawyer. It would be nearly impossible to do this effectively yourself, so your case would be compromised. All in all, I would not recommend bringing an ET claim without legal representation.
It is a long process which is daunting at times. However, if your case is of strong merit and you have not been able to resolve the situation with the other party - stay strong and remember you have done nothing wrong. You have simply exercised your right to have a family - if the employer has not treated you fairly during this time then it is their issue in the long-run and one they should be answerable to.
That's an excellent post Drifa, really helpful for anyone considering a claim.
Best of luck Drifa. I work in HR and have been to many ET hearings and have given evidence too (eeek!)
They can often seem formal on first glance but in my experience this is more the language that is used-'sir' etc. Its the employer who tends to get the hard time and the judge helps the employee along (especially if you are vs a large employer). The only exception to this is where the employee lies in court-judges tend to get a bit annoyed with this!
Best of luck, stick to your guns-you sound like you have an open and shut case tbh!
All you need to prove in a case like this is that you were treated differently, ie you weren't consulted with etc. Your employer is in for a hard time as they have to show why-why else if it except your mat leave!! Surprised they didn't settle out of court on this one
my questions are for Drifa if I may? (it sounds like I'm you about 4months behind!)
Is your case closed now? Did you succeed? Was it purely a discrimination claim or were there other elements? (I mean, my CMD turned up 4 separate claims under different headings/categories of employment law and as such it seems very complex) I'd like to ask more, but don't want to waste your time especially after the whole ordeal that you've had/are going through, it's bad enough waiting for it to come around, but the actual hearing must be petrifying
Hi Drifa and dogged
How did you get on Drifa?
dogged - i think i'm a bit behind you. I'm logged with the ET, Concilliator has been assigned. CMD scheduled for 24th July. Company still blundering along with their investigations. Mine is also discrimination.
Would love to know more about both your experiences.
Dogged & Arianasmummy,
I'm so sorry for the slow response, it's been a little manic of recent and hence I've not kept up with this thread....
Last week saw the conclusion of my hearing - originally the hearing was scheduled for four days, but ended up running to eight. It's a huge relief to have concluded this part, however, it can take up to six weeks to receive the written verdict from the judge, so it's a waiting game now.
The statutory basis of my case was a breach of the MAPLE Regs s10. - the regulation which gives you heightened protection during pregnancy & maternity. However, as sex discrimination can be hard to prove I understand it is common to also plead an "ordinary" unfair dismissal under ERA s.98 as it is a 'fall back' if the MAPLE case is not found in your favour.
The hearing is daunting, however, if you ensure you know the 'bundle of documents' and the key pages and references you wish to draw the panels attention to you really will be giving yourself a head start. I know this really helped me when I was giving my evidence and especially when I was cross-examined.
As I noted above, having a strong solicitor is key. The construction of the legal arguments are complex and at times the pace in the hearing can be fast - I really feel it would be easy to compromise even the strongest case on paper without a solid representation.
Please let me know if there are any specific questions I can attempt to assist you with - I don't want to bore you with all the details of my experience, but if I can be of any assistance I will.
Good luck with both of your cases....stay strong.
Thanks Drifa - and good luck for the verdict, you sound upbeat.
My employer has been dragging their feet. The initial Case Management discussion only took 5 mins as my employer had been taking so long we hadn't completed stage 1. The ET judge rescheduled for a week ago. Yet again we hadn't completed stage 1. The judge has given them 6 weeks. At the 6 week point the judge has told them he will be setting a date for the hearing.
My employer has rejected my grievance. They claim i knew about the restructuring and the managers role as i had been told in an unofficial conversation, i was told it was going to happen in the future. They also claim they didn't tell me about the major restructuring as i hadn't requested keeping in touch days. They have not been able to find any dirt on me, but they keep trying to distract from my original grievance and theres a lot of smoke and mirrors.
I'm currently off work with stress. Strangely enough another position has just materialised whicj could have been written for me. I have applied, the union is confident i'll get it, but i just don't trust anyone anymore.
Should start by saying that I'm by no means a legal expert - so this is just some advice from my personal experience....
Re keeping in touch days, it certainly has been made clear in my case that the onus is not on the person on maternity to keep in touch - it is entirely in the hands of the company (unless of course you have expressly asked or arranged in advance that you wish for no contact). Government websites etc all make this clear, so any responsible employer should understand this.
If you were not informed of the restructuring whilst you were on maternity, and you can prove that other colleagues were (ideally in written form), then you were discriminated against ie. if but for your pregnancy/maternity you would have known.
The best advice I could give you, without knowing the in's and out's of your situation is to decide what your ideal outcome is and focus on that eg settlement, your old job back or the new one. That part was easier for me as I was dismissed and couldn't have gone back.
Please let me know if there's anything else I can attempt to give you an insight into.
Thanks Drifa, thats very reassuring. The company seem to be putting a lot of weight on the KIT days. I'll go and check the govt websites.
I have already decided my outcome, i was advised by the union early on, i want a new role and compensation.
I'm just hoping i get the new role that i was interviewed for last week.
M, good luck with pursuing the new role & I hope you reach a resolution soon.
My ET was paid for by the legal team of my house insurance policy. All the evidence was looked by the employment law specialist and as it was expected that I had more than a 51% chance of winning, they took it on.
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