We acted for a retained client employing around 250 people in a call centre environment. Because the nature of the retainer encourages close and frequent contact between the client and ourselves, we were in at the very beginning when an employee raised a grievance making serious allegations of race and pregnancy discrimination. The client and ourselves believed these allegations were without merit and were designed to deflect attention from disciplinary proceedings that were about to be commenced following an earlier disciplinary investigation meeting.
We advised and assisted our client in running a thorough and faultless grievance process which, after interviewing the complainant and witnesses, concluded there was no merit in the allegations. The employees appeal was subsequently also found to be without merit after a proper appeal process that we helped to manage.
The employee’s disciplinary process was carefully overseen by us and after an equally thorough hearing (and subsequently an appeal) the employee was dismissed.
The employee then issued proceedings in the Employment Tribunal again raising allegations of race and pregnancy discrimination and now of victimisation and unfair dismissal too! Our client was nervous about their exposure and wanted to explore an early settlement. We were able to persuade the client not to do that and to allow us to conduct a robust defence to this litigation. This we did. The beauty of the retainer product is of course that the client was able to allow us to run with their defence without the real worry of them incurring any legal costs (all such costs are completely covered by the simple rolling monthly retainer payment).
As the date set for trial neared, the Claimant herself wanted to explore settlement! No doubt she had been earlier advised that employers always give in and make an offer and was surprised and worried when this didn’t happen. We rejected some outlandish and expensive proposals put forward by her and we continued towards trial.
Nearer the time we recommended our client availed themselves of the relatively new facility offered by Employment Tribunals of a Judicial Assessment. This is a no cost service offered by the Tribunal in which a Judge gives both parties a view on what the Judge thinks might be the outcome if the matter went to final hearing.
The writing was now firmly on the wall for this meritless litigation and, shortly before the date fixed for the Judicial Assessment, the Claimant accepted a very modest offer from our client reflecting only the cost to them in their management time in having to attend the Tribunal (which had been listed for 2 weeks!).
The ability to run with this case in this way and to gain the overwhelming tactical advantage was possible because of the inherent advantages of the retainer product and, uppermost in those advantages the fact that the client was not incurring any legal cost in the defence of their case.