Constructive dismissal claims and Alan Sugar’s latest mission

2013-12-12 Jennifer Renney posted:

The Apprentice’s Lord Alan Sugar has vowed to fight in the House of Lords against a ‘new wave of claim culture’ after seeing off a claim from a former winner of the programme, Stella English. Miss English lost her claim for constructive dismissal after a tribunal rejected her argument that she was forced to resign from her role as project manager of Sugar’s company Viglen in 2011.

English had won the BBC show at the end of 2010 and was given a year’s contract on a salary of £100,000, but she claimed her job description was not clear, her role was a “sham” and she was just an “overpaid lackey".

She resigned from the company after five months and, having been transferred to another of Sugar’s firms, subsequently resigned from that post too. The employment tribunal said there was no evidence that Sugar or his senior managers had done anything to destroy or damage trust, which must be established in order for a claim for unfair constructive dismissal to succeed.

In a statement, Lord Sugar, a Labour peer, described the case as a ‘sham and total abuse of a tribunal system’ and he urged other companies to fight ‘derisory’ claims.

He also said: ‘What has happened here is representative of a new wave of claim culture where some employees file spurious actions regardless of whose reputation it may smear in the process.’ He has vowed to continue to campaign to put an end to what he calls “this practice” and to use his influence in the House of Lords. Sugar, the founder of computer firm Amstrad, said that the case was brought on the basis that Miss English assumed he would settle out of court, and commented ‘I'm afraid she underestimated me. I have principles and I am not going to be forced to compromise them, no matter how much time and money they might cost me.’

However not all employers can afford to take the same line even if they would like to. This highly publicised case will no doubt stop some employees from suing their former employers unless there is clear evidence of a breach of trust and they have raised a formal grievance first.

If you have any questions about constructive dismissal get in touch with Jennifer Renney today.

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