25 October 2012
Landmark Supreme Court ruling sets new tribunal precedent
A landmark ruling at London's Supreme Court could result in Britain's employment law landscape changing forever.
Yesterday (October 24th), it emerged that the Supreme Court has upheld an earlier decision made in favour of 174 females who used to work for Birmingham City Council and took legal action against the body on the grounds of gender discrimination.
This group of employees - who fulfilled roles such as cleaners, cooks and care workers - all left their positions in the four-year period between 2004 and 2008 and opted to sue the local authority after claiming they were not treated fairly.
According to the women, the council breached employment legislation by failing to give them the same benefits and payments that were awarded to their male colleagues in similar positions.
The local authority attempted to deny these claims by insisting they should have been taken to employment tribunals within six months of each individual departing, but the Court of Appeal ruled in the employees' favour in a case last year.
This decision was challenged by the council, but the Supreme Court has now upheld this original decision, meaning the boundaries in terms of making a claim against a former employer have now been shifted.
Effectively, this case has set a new precedent whereby people can take legal action up to six years after leaving an organisation, rather than the previous six-month limit.
Legal experts believe this ruling will have major ramifications for organisations in both the public and private sectors as it could lead to new wave of compensation claims being launched against companies.
One of the women involved, 67-year-old Pam Saunders, told the BBC she is happy with the decision, but expressed her anger that the group had to go all the way to the Supreme Court before winning their right to seek damages.
"At the end of the day we did work hard for them. We really, really did and so why shouldn't they have paid us the right amount in the beginning?" she asked.
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Posted by Trusha Vyas