Claimants alleging mistreatment at work should be able to present their case without a succession of preliminary hearings, an employment appeal tribunal has said.
His Honour Judge Shanks allowed the claimant’s appeal in Parkin v Leeds City Council and remitted her claims for sex discrimination and harassment.
The housing support worker has brought two sets of proceedings in the employment tribunal alleging numerous forms of discrimination. Employment Judge Lancaster, sitting in Leeds, struck out claims of sex discrimination or sexual harassment on the basis they had no reasonable prospects of success. Striking out was found by the appeal tribunal to be an error of law.
In giving his ruling, HHJ Shanks sympathised with the position of the employment judge, saying it was difficult to see how this kind of case could be managed in a way that ensured justice for both sides. He added: ‘It seems to me that sometimes with these cases the best answer may be to just list them for a full hearing at the earliest opportunity and not keep making interim orders that are appealed and cause endless delays and bewilderment, I suspect, to claimants. That way the claimant is able to give evidence, tell her story, facts are decided upon, and then the results of those can be adjudicated on.'
The tribunal heard the claimant's ‘long, repetitive’ first pleadings were difficult to follow, and she has now brought a further six sets of proceedings on top of the initial two. Interlocutory battles have arisen from all these claims and no date for a court hearing has been arranged.
A preliminary hearing for case management was held in July 2018 where a couple of claims were withdrawn and dismissed. The employment judge in that hearing gave the claimant directions to produce a schedule of allegations identifying the basis of the ongoing case and directed another preliminary hearing to consider whether any further claims should be struck out or a deposit order made.
HHJ Shanks urged ‘caution’ on striking out and said that only in the most obvious and plain case should a discrimination claim meet this fate. The matter will go back for another case management hearing on strike out.