Random rant about a case I have against my employer!

(23 Posts)
Hilly1990 Wed 24-Jan-18 10:45:52

So forgive me for sounding bitter, but I really need a safe place to express my utter disappointment and disgust at my ongoing situation and the lack of support I'm receiving.

I am currently 7 months into maternity leave and in early concilliation with my employer who sent me a random letter of dismissal 2 days before Christmas, due to my job being deemed surplus to current requirements of the business. There was no prior warning, no right to appeal, and no redundancy process, despite there being 3 members of staff performing my role within the company, one of which was employed permanantly to cover my role.

I have been told on numerous occasions that I have a case because there should have been a fair redundancy process including all 4 members of staff. Yes I agree. However everybody is failing to State the obvious that they should never have hired somebody permanantly to cover my role, they should have been maternity cover. And thus there would be no need for a redundancy!

Because I cannot afford legal advice since I am now without an income and do not know when I will next receive any, I have gone back and forth searching for advice. I have literally been sent packing from a citizens advice office because they do not have the funding for employment issues and thought it was a really funny matter that I stupidly might think so. I have been told by law schools and University helplines that they cannot provide me the help I need because they do not cover my postcode.

After speaking to a few solicitors who offer initial advice I have been told that a realistic compensatory figure would be around 20k, 10k being for loss of earnings and 10k being for injury to feelings, an amount which is based at the lower end of the vento scale for somebody who has lost my job. When seeking advice for a reasonable settlement offer without going to court I was told that I had to be realistic and "fair". "You are taking about suing a company" this woman said. "That's a big deal".

This quite frankly appalled me. Honestly aside from my concern over my lack of income money really doesn't concern me. I have no idea how to negotiate or at what point I say no and risk going to court and losing. I am a sufferer from depression and anxiety which has increased greatly due to this.

"Be reasonable and then you will save yourself all the distress of going to court and representating yourself" I have been told. Which is an appealing idea when I consider how this may affect me emotionally, and even then I may not win.

But why should I? Why should I be reasonable? The compensation that may be very necessary and deserve considering my situation is a drop in the ocean to them. However god knows how long without an income could have dire consequences for myself and my family. Along with the severe stress and fear of this case, and the fact that this will remain with me for the rest of my life, unlike them who will shrug it off. In the meantime it is myself and my daughter who are suffering, I'm stressed every day thinking about this, it is rubbing off on her, and I don't have the energy to give her that I should have.

And what is reasonable? Is 6 months salary reasonable when you could be out of work for years? Is that reasonable for all the hurt and the stress caused? And at what point do I say, no let's throw it away and risk gaining nothing at court? Not one person will comment on the strength of my case.

What has appalled me the most is that out of 10 or more advisers I have explained my situation to only one person has said they are sorry I have been put through it. The rest unfortunately have treat me as if I am out for something, pushing my luck and as if I'm making it out to be a big deal. It is a big deal. And no matter what I won't back down. It's a wonder how many women do.

How very sad.

OP’s posts: |
neverknowinglynormal Wed 24-Jan-18 10:52:13

I think it's a big deal too and that you are right to be angry. You shouldn't have experienced that and you are entitled to be compensated as your employer has been unreasonable!

user187656748 Wed 24-Jan-18 10:56:32

I understand that you are ranting and letting off steam.

However I do this for a living and couldn't possibly advise on this without more info and so nobody else will be able to either.

Loss of earnings is net remember, and I would need more detail about your earnings and your length of service.

Injury to feelings is only going to be relevant if you can prove discrimination and middle band vento is possibly optimistic. Depends on precisely what the discrimination was.

If you go to tribunal you will have legal fees which eat into this considerably so settlement is always worth serious consideration.

You can't expect solicitors to give you detailed advice for free I'm afraid and so to expect to get anything other than an overview opinion as part of a free chat is unreasonable.

Hilly1990 Wed 24-Jan-18 11:04:35

Yes I understand that but im more venting at the situation I am now in where I can't get advice - which is because of my employer.

The discrimination is automatic unfair dismissal due to maternity discrimination. From what I have heard and read this falls into the middle vento bracket "a serious incident of discrimination or a minor one which resulted in the loss of their job" award between 8k and 25k, of course this needs proving. But even so if the courts don't stick to this vento system id rather know what is likely so I can negotiate a settlement accordingly. I don't want to have the wrong idea, I just want to know where I stand.

And I was told via acas that if you represent yourself there are no tribunal fees?

OP’s posts: |
Iprefercoffeetotea Wed 24-Jan-18 11:14:20

There are no tribunal fees whether or not you are represented, although you'd have legal fees.

Do you have legal cover on your car/home insurance?

user187656748 Wed 24-Jan-18 11:20:26

Can you prove your termination is because you have taken maternity leave? It is not directly causal. What I mean by this is the fact that you were the one chosen and you are on maternity leave might indicate that your maternity leave is something to do with the dismissal but it might still be the case that the employer can demonstrate that it wasn't anything to do with your maternity absence and actually it was because when they assessed the relative performance etc of the individuals you scored the lowest. With the greatest of respect, without something more than "I was picked and I was on mat leave" you may well struggle. Did they make any discriminatory comments, was there an issue when you said you were pregnant/planning to take mat leave?

Yes its true that if you represent yourself there are no fees but you could still be liable for costs if you lose. It is also an incredibly stressful experience.

Hilly1990 Wed 24-Jan-18 11:38:58

No I don't have any cover in afraid but will think twice about paying the extra for it next time.

They have not even considered the other 3 members of staff for redundancy, infact it was not portrayed as a redundancy to me, just a dismissal of myself entirely. I did raise this matter as my grievance and they did not argue back with any such pool or scoring system. And if they did I don't know how they would work it. I have a longer length of service than 2/3 of them, I'm more qualified, I never had any appraisal done or any professional review but only received praise, my absence is low aside from pregnancy related illness ie morning sickness.

I was told by a solicitor that they only make you pay the employers legal cost if you don't cooperate or act in a bad manner. It wouldn't be possible for me to lose this case and then pay so much for their fees. I just would not have the money. This is really concerning me now. I feel completely trapped and at a loss at what to do. sad

OP’s posts: |
Stinkbomb Wed 24-Jan-18 11:55:22

Are you in the UK? And how long have you worked there?

Hilly1990 Wed 24-Jan-18 12:15:52

16 months at dismissal so can't claim unfair dismissal but if it's mat descrimination it's automatically unfair regardless of length of service. Yes im in the UK.

OP’s posts: |
user187656748 Wed 24-Jan-18 13:37:07

The advice that you only stand to be liable for costs if you don't cooperate or act in a bad manner is not correct. You could also be liable for costs if you refuse a reasonable offer of settlement or if you pursue a case unreasonably etc.

It's a risk you take if you litigate. Employment tribunals don't typically make very high awards against claimants acting in person but they can. In the past year I've had three cases where we had a costs award against a claimant. All for a few thousand pounds.

You should contact ACAS regarding early conciliation and that will set the wheels in motion., You then have time to think about what to do.

TickTock10 Wed 24-Jan-18 14:28:59

Wow! I'm sorry to hear what you are experiencing and going through.

They certainly are in breach of contract, and a whole list of others.

If you have any insurances (home/car), check/review your policies to see whether there is any cover for legal employment. Most people have it included without knowing, even if they didn't pay additional costs.

I would definitely recommend you speak to ACAS (google) When did you get notified of this? There's a timeframe of when you can lodge an ET1, so my advice is to put that as priority.

As a worst case scenario there are solicitors that do a no win no fee, but they do carry high fees, but then the burden of upfront legal costs is taken away, it's likely that they won't take a case unless they believe you have a high chance of winning.

neverknowinglynormal Wed 24-Jan-18 14:29:48

I'm not a back-downer either! And people have often told me to consider it. At times, I have. But my self-respect benefits from challenging even if my stress levels don't.Yes, no tribunal fees. I think you would be able to do the initial bits yourself but would need someone if it got as far as the tribunal. I could have done all but that bit myself (not as well as my solicitor, but would have managed). Barrister essential for cross-examination though.

neverknowinglynormal Wed 24-Jan-18 14:30:43

I would go to ACAS and start early conciliation and see what response you get.

user187656748 Wed 24-Jan-18 14:45:50

You can't submit a claim without going through the acas process so that is an essential step. You certainly don't need a barrister for cross examination.

You have four options for representation in the tribunal:

1 - self representation
2 - use non qualified representative (often call themselves HR advisers or employment law advisers or something like that) or a qualified representative without a practising certificate but with both of these types of advisers only if they are working for no charge. They are not allowed to conduct litigation and charge you.
3. solicitor
4. barrister

Hilly1990 Wed 24-Jan-18 14:49:48

Hi guys I am in early concilliation. However I have got to figure out a settlement amount I'm happy with before I say no and risk a tribunal. Of course I would much rather settle and I would be happy to take a fraction of what I could potentially win at tribunal. My issue is that I have no idea what is a reasonable amount to go in at, or what amount I should take and be happy with before taking it to a tribunal. That's if they even agree to settle my concilliatior has contacted them and they said they might depending on what I want. I have absolutely no idea cos iv been told 5, 10, 20 grand. I have no idea how strong my case is it I knew it was strong I'd be more inclined to ask for more and risk it if they don't settle. Of course if it's a weak one I should count my blessings really. Acas won't help unfortunately I just know I have a case.

OP’s posts: |
user187656748 Wed 24-Jan-18 15:51:19

Go in high and see what they say.

I can't say what that is without fully assessing the case but max for normal unfair dismissal is a year's salary. That would only be achievable though if you were unable to work at all for over a year so you have to be realistic. Without sounding patronising if your job is widget packing on a production line you are going to be able to find another job. If you're a highly specialised person in a flooded job market then it might take you longer.

user187656748 Wed 24-Jan-18 15:52:05

Go with the top amount that you have been told by one of the solicitors who has assessed your case. They must have based their figure on something.

Hilly1990 Wed 24-Jan-18 16:57:48

I'm an admin assistant so probably wouldn't struggle to find a job under normal circumstances but considering I have my daughter full time and can't afford childcare I don't know how I will attend interviews. In that respect I am hoping for 6 months which is 10k. Should I suggest this or add some on for personal injury? Appreciate the help guys. Like I said I've been told to go in at 20, 15, 10, 8k and don't want them to laugh in my face.

OP’s posts: |
neverknowinglynormal Wed 24-Jan-18 17:43:41

I would say, in my experience, that a barrister may not be essential but self-representing would be a nightmare for cross-examination and a barrister would be cheaper than a solicitor (and more experienced in cross-examining).

As for amounts, I can't imagine it would be anything other than the lower end of the middle vento band for injury to feelings. Maybe start at 12k for injury to feelings to allow some negotiating room, but judges rarely put a discriminatory dismissal lower than the middle vento band even though it may be a "one off" as it is a big "one off". Don't mix this up with personal injury because I don't think you mean that. For actual financial loss, you have to calculate the actual loss of earnings and then make a prediction about how long that loss of earnings will last. I'm not so good on how dismissal awards are worked out but there are online calculators.

Overall, though, I can't see that 20k would be unreasonable at all; you lost your job and will find it hard to get a new one, and it's probable that none of it would have happened if you'd been male and not had a baby...

user187656748 Wed 24-Jan-18 17:45:33

Your childcare issue are not the tribunal's concern though I'm afraid.

I can't tell you what to go in at. It wouldn't be right to do that without knowing all the information. I would say aim high and you can always drop. You would only be awarded net salary, not gross but factor in things like pension contribution etc.

To be honest I think you should pay for some legal advice. It will be money well spent.

neverknowinglynormal Wed 24-Jan-18 17:45:37

Do have a read of online judgments on www.gov.uk/employment-tribunal-decisions as then you can see the sorts of awards and the evidence needed etc. You can search via different types of discrimination.

daisychain01 Wed 24-Jan-18 22:55:34

Could you afford £750 for a barrister to do a merits assessment of your claim?

I expect your former employer have done same and basing their actions on whether the claim holds water at Tribunal.

Intelinside Sat 27-Jan-18 06:14:17

They'll come back with a counter offer so go in with £20k, using the justification below so you can articulate how you've arrived at that amount. Explain that the cost to the organisation, directly from legal costs and indirectly from reputational damage, will be much higher.

It does seem grim what you've said to be unfair and the recruitment of a perm staff member to cover your role may go on your favour but if they are the kind of org that sacks people on mat leave for no reason, there's nothing to say they'll act the innocent and manipulate records to make it look like that person has a different job scope to you or something.

If I was you, I'd also make a subject access request. You'll likely want documents that you have the right to see for the period prior to the decision, which name you (either your full name, initials or nicknames) between the decision makers/senior managers/HR etc. I'm unusure you'll be entitled to access the recruitment papers as part of this, but you can try (you have a legal right to your information, which the recruitment docs wouldn't be).

The employer can say the request is disproportionate effort for them to gather what you are asking, but they'd need to justify this decision. The more specific you are about what you want, the more likely it'll be difficult to argue. E-mails between 3 or 4 people for 6 months containing your name should run to no more than get 100 and they'll have 40 days deadline to get it to you. From my experience, the ICO wouldn't agree that was disproportionate effort for a mid/large employer.

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