Unfounded discrimination cases clog up tribunal system in Wales
A leading employment lawyer has warned of the problems caused by the increase in the number of illegitimate discrimination cases in the Employment Tribunals system.
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Jeremy Consitt, Solicitor and Barrister at South Wales’ employment law specialists, MJL Group in Abercynon, said: “Last year, I dealt with around 30 discrimination claims in the region – over half of them were illegitimate accusations and this appears to be a trend that’s on the increase.
“With so many claims lodged to the Employment Tribunal, this can have a serious effect on employees with legitimate claims and cause havoc for employers whose reputation may be seriously damaged by false accusations.”
National figures released last week have shown the number of claims accepted by Employment Tribunals have reached their highest ever level, with a 56% increase from 2008 to 2009.
“It’s a real problem in the system at the moment, as there are individuals with genuine discrimination cases and these are being watered-down and delayed by the sheer volume of unfounded claims,” said Jeremy. “It also has a detrimental impact on the resources of the Employment Tribunals who do not always have the time to determine genuine claims from those which really have no substance.”
“There is a growing culture, perhaps instigated by ‘pub-talk’ where people are abusing the Employment Tribunal system as it costs nothing for an employee to lodge a complaint. On the other hand, it costs employers thousands of pounds to defend themselves, wasting valuable hours and man-power that could be used elsewhere.
“As a nation trying to dig our way out of a recession, every penny is crucial in ensuring financial survival. This is true of all sectors of employment be it commerce, manufacturing, public services, charities or the public sector. An illegitimate discrimination case can be a real burden to an employer and have a devastating effect on their reputation.”
Although Wales has witnessed an increase in unfounded discrimination claims, the success rate of making a false claim is extremely limited. Jeremy explains; “Apart from a minority that settled for commercial reasons, all of the remaining unfounded claims have eventually been dismissed by Tribunals following full trials which can often last up to a week.”
“This shows that although it may be relatively easy to lodge a claim, unless you have a valid reason to do so, you won’t get the desired outcome.
“False discrimination claims make a mockery of the Employment Tribunals that were set up to give those with legitimate grievances, the ability to defend themselves and stand up for their rights.
“Unless we shed this ‘get-rich-quick’ culture, we are likely to see a steady increase in unfounded discrimination claims which will have a knock-on effect to those who need the system to defend them in an employment dispute.”
MJL provides a range of professional services on all issues relating to health and safety, employment law and work place environmental control. This service is provided by MJL’s in-house team of employment specialists, barristers and qualified professional project managers, to ensure companies remain compliant across a variety of disciplines at all times. Please visit www.mjlgroup.com for further information.
Click here to watch a video explanation by Jeremy Consitt