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Top of the tribunal awards pops: the top ten most expensive awards in 2014

BY Fiona McBeath
Employment Law & HR
BG Purple

Whilst the introduction of the Employment Tribunal fees system last year may have resulted in a drop in claims of 79% on the previous year’s statistics, it’s important not to be lulled into a false sense of security.

There are still cases making their way to the Tribunal and, when they do, some have proven to be costly for employers.  

So, in true Top of the Pops style, here are the top ten most expensive Tribunal awards of 2014: 

In at number 10, it’s the disabled support worker with a bipolar disorder who was awarded £101,183 due to the way in which allegations regarding a disagreement with a member of the public were handled (Richman v Knowsley Metropolitan Borough Council). 

The case of Benedetto v Guys’ and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust features at number 9.  The employer in this case was found not to have made reasonable adjustments to its disciplinary process in respect of a kitchen assistant with a significant learning disability.  The claimant was awarded £121,863 for unfair dismissal and disability HR. 

Number 8 goes to the employee suffering from depression who was awarded £126,348 in compensation following a finding that the employer should have delayed the disciplinary proceedings regarding an allegation he had inappropriately accessed a number of accounts (O’Doherty v Royal Bank of Scotland). 

In at Number 7 is the police officer of Sikh origin who successfully claimed that he had been passed over for promotion because of his race.  His employer was forced to stump up £209,188 in compensation (Bahra v Chief Constable of Bedfordshire Police). 

Number 6 again features the police.  An employment tribunal ordered South Wales Police to pay £230,215 after a failure to make reasonable adjustments resulted in a police officer having to retire because of a knee injury.  The employer had failed to consider alternative posts for him (Horler v Chief Constable of South Wales Police). 

In at number 5 is the case of Harris v Monmouthshire County Council.  In this case the claimant was awarded £238,216 for unfair dismissal and disability HR following a finding that the employer had badly handled her capability dismissal. 

At number 4, is the Executive who was awarded £254,611 after he blew the whistle and was dismissed for redundancy as a result (Gill v Sweet (UK) Ltd).  

In at number 3, it’s Mrs Konczak.  This secretary was awarded £360,179 after her claims of sex HR, disability HR and unfair dismissal were all upheld by the employment tribunal (Konczak v BAE Systems (Operations) Ltd). 

The number 2 spot goes to a former RAF nurse who was awarded £557,039 after the tribunal upheld her complaint of sex HR against the Ministry of Defence.  The tribunal found that the Ministry of Defence’s approach to promotion favoured male officers over female officers. 

Finally, in at number 1 in our chart, is the case of Wright and others v Purple Parking Ltd in which the employer dismissed drivers over 67 years of age after claiming its insurance provider would not insure them.  The employer admitted liability and has been ordered to pay more than £700,000 to 20 drivers. 

In each of the above cases, the level of compensatory payment awarded by the respective employment tribunal would have been music to the claimants’ ears and the cases are a timely reminder for employers that the potential costs of HR claims which make it to tribunal these days can be high. 

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