We are sad to announce the death of Dennis Taylor, a SMB professional support lawyer in the employment and business immigration team. Dennis supported the team remotely in navigating the regular changes to employment law and did a fantastic job preparing our marketing materials, our bulletins and our training materials.
Dennis was meticulous, professional and a true employment law geek. He was passionate about using the law to bring about social change particularly in the workplace. The concepts of fairness, justice and equality were integral to his personality, as was the commitment to protecting fundamental human rights.
His career spanned both industry and the legal profession. He started out as a trainee manager at Sainsburys in Catford South East London in 1965. In a short space of time he was promoted, age 23, to be one of the youngest store managers in Clapham. It was not unusual for Dennis to be the first at the store in the middle of the night when the alarm went off, such was his dedication. This was to be the hallmark of Dennis throughout his career. For a time, he was manager at the Brixton store and this solidified his lifelong struggle against discrimination. He appreciated the business case for diversity and inclusion at a time when it was not fashionable. His desire to be an architect for change led to him being persuaded to join Tesco in their HR team. Whilst there Dennis was able to use his talents in the transformation of the company into a global retailer with cutting edge policies on equality.
Dennis’ interest in the law took him away from HR into the legal profession. He first spent a number of years at Howes Percival and then joined the global firm DLA Piper. Whilst there he was able to pioneer innovative training programmes and was one of the first to create an online diversity course for major companies. He also sat as a member of the employment tribunal at London South. There are many stories of Dennis taking an employment judge through the law on complicated cases and persuading the tribunal to come to the right decision.
Dennis ended his career at SMB as part of the team that moved from DLA Piper in 2008. He continued his pioneering work with regular newsletters, tweets and articles published in a variety of HR journals. He was rarely in the office as he was one of the pioneers in remote working. Whether it was from his home in East Sussex or some sunny beach in Florida or Spain, you always could depend on his regular updates on the finer points of new regulations or the implications of a landmark decision.
Dennis broke the mould in many ways – in his self-deprecating style he described himself as an ‘East End lad’, but his knowledge of the latest IT solution never waned, his insistence that remote working was the future, nor his belief that a fair society could only exist if racial prejudice and discrimination was eliminated. His love for Arsenal and football in general was legendary given that he would be one of the few standing on the touchline on a wintry December Sunday morning to support his local village team. He loved R&B and soul music, and was eloquent on the issues of cultural appropriation in the music business.
He will be missed and the world will not be the same without his bulletins. However his legacy will shine on since he lived by the ideal that we all had to actively campaign to protect basic civil liberties. We pass on our condolences to his wife Larry.