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Employment Tribunal

We bring news of a decision from the Employment Appeals Tribunal which will directly affect all employers who have employees who are disabled or long-term sick.

Until now employees have been entitled to be accompanied at a disciplinary meeting only by a work colleague or a trade union representative. This has changed following the case of Yorkshire Housing Ltd v Cuerden.

The claimant had a major depressive disorder and had been off sick for a period of seven months. Her condition constituted a disability under the Disability Discrimination Act 1995. The claimant resigned in part due to her employer’s refusal to allow her legal representative to attend a disciplinary meeting with her. The employee cited this as a failure to make reasonable adjustments. The EAT held that the claimant had been placed at a substantial disadvantage by not having her legal representative at a disciplinary meeting and that she should have been allowed to take her lawyer to the meeting.

This decision means employers must now be careful about deciding whether an employee may be accompanied by someone other than a colleague or union rep. It is not yet clear whether this position also applies to grievance meetings but representatives for claimants will no doubt argue that it does.

Practical advice for employers around this is that if an employee is going to bring a lawyer to a meeting employers might insist in return that their representative should also be present to ensure the parties are on an even footing. This is especially so if the matter looks like it might end up in the Employment Tribunals.

Need further help or advice? Call us today. 01428 724685

From - www.didlaw.com

Article posted on: 25 February 2011

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