26.10.06

Day 18 (week 4): Employment Tribunal

Finally, another court hearing with the Boss today. Actually an employment tribunal. I had been under the impression that the Boss didn’t do any employment work. I was wrong it seemed. He did a hearing (which settled at the door of court) about ten years ago. "It’s just like the small claims track. No real formal procedure. Just a free for all in front of a tribunal who know no better." Well, that was assuring.

Off we trotted to the salubrious surroundings of Croydon employment tribunal. The Boss was for a city worker claiming sex discrimination on the basis that she’d got a smaller bonus than her colleagues. Mysteriously, her former barrister had suddenly become unavailable for today’s hearing only yesterday. Hence the return of the papers to Chambers and their eventual arrival on the Boss’ less than busy desk. The claim was for £80,000 and at first glance at least, looked like a try on. No positive evidence on our part of any actual discrimination. Simply, the client had got less than the average. Further, the average bonus of the three other female employees had been slightly lower than the average of the thirty male colleagues. And? One of those three women had been well above the average. There was hardly a pattern.

Despite this, the Boss had blithely taken on the case on a no-win, no-fee basis. He’d spotted that the other side had made an offer of £10,000 to get rid of the case months ago and therefore once again assumed that it would settle at court.

He was right. £15,000 and the client was told that she was lucky to be getting anything. Overheard the other barrister telling the Boss that he was very keen to settle as he had a Big case starting tomorrow that he’d have to pass up if this one went ahead. No wonder they both seemed rather jolly as they went for a glass of champagne after the case.

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