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In Place of Strife

The Mediation Chambers

Employment

Summary

This was a case that had been to Tribunal and subsequently to an Appeals Tribunal, who referred the case back for a re-hearing.

Background

The Claimant was a lecturer at a further education college and had been sacked for gross misconduct some three years before the mediation date. She took the matter to the Employment Tribunal on the grounds of unfair dismissal and they upheld the termination. The Claimant, who was now unemployed and had devoted all her time to fighting what she saw as victimisation, took the matter to the Appeals Tribunal and they found grounds for her case to be reheard at a further Tribunal. The mediation was arranged before the rehearing.
There was a huge amount of animosity on both sides. The College authorities had had to cope with a difficult and unco-operative member of staff whilst she was employed, had meticulously gone through the disciplinary process before the Claimant’s contract had been terminated and had been as generous as they could with the ‘pay-off’. In their eyes the Claimant, who they considered needed psychiatric help, was intentionally wasting their precious time and deliberately trying to make life as difficult as possible for them. Any talk of further payments to the Claimant was an anathema to them.
The Claimant, although advised by her lawyer that she was likely to get very little from the Tribunal rehearing even if she succeeded (probably £65-70,000 at best), constructed a claim for lost income and pension of over £250,000. She was over 50 and had been actively, but unsuccessfully, seeking alternative employment since her dismissal, so she considered her life to be blighted by the unreasonable and prejudiced action of her former employers.

Outcome

The College had, since the dismissal, undergone a serious period of redundancies and were now in severe financial difficulties. Their scope for settlement was therefore very low.
This was a very acrimonious mediation with bad feeling, suspicion and accusations of bad faith throughout the day. It went into the evening and the Mediator had to arrange for food to be brought in to sustain everyone. Eventually the Claimant was persuaded to settle for a modest sum with the College agreed to the wording of a reference for her. By ending the Tribunal process, the Claimant got her life back and now had the prospect of getting back into employment with the benefit of a reference, which could never have happened through the Tribunal process.


Mediator: David Richbell