Friday, December 8th, 2017 posted in Inspire News


The Skelton Key

In Various Claimants v Wm Morrisons Supermarket PLC, Morrisons has been found liable for a former employee leaking personal information about nearly 100,000 members of staff.

Thousands of staff sued Morrisons after their personal details were leaked online by a senior IT employee, Andrew Skelton, in 2014. (I bet you thought I had spelt skeleton wrong in the title. Well I hadn’t. You look pretty foolish my friend. Pretty foolish indeed!)

Information including salaries, national insurance numbers, dates of birth and bank account details were also sent to a number of newspapers.

Skelton was jailed for eight years in July 2015 for his actions.

A High Court judge decided Morrisons had provided “adequate and appropriate controls”.

He said: “It was a criminal act which was not Morrisons’ doing, which was not facilitated by Morrisons, nor authorised by it”.

Unfortunately for Morrisons, the judge went on to find that vicarious liability had been established.

However, he granted Morrisons leave to appeal because he was “troubled” that in finding Morrisons responsible for an employee who had deliberately targeted the company, he may be seen “to render the court an accessory in furthering his criminal aims”.

Morrisons said: “[We] worked to get the data taken down quickly [and] provide protection for those colleagues.”

The judgment doesn’t seem fair to me so I hope Morrisons win at appeal.

Click here to read the judgment.

It’s a, it’s a, it’s a, it’s a sin

In De Groen v Gan Menachem Hendon Ltd, a teacher who was sacked from an Orthodox Jewish nursery for ‘living in sin’ with her boyfriend has won her case of religious and sex discrimination.

Zelda de Groen, 24, was pulled out of classes for a ‘chat’ after parents at Gan Menachem nursery, Hendon, complained about her living with her boyfriend.

One outraged parent even suggested they would pull their child out of the nursery the following year, if the child was to be taught by her.

During the ‘chat’ Ms de Groen was told that at 23 she should be married. That’s nonsense. At 23, you should be living for the weekend so you can spend all your money at the local disco. I assume it’s still called that.

Two days later, when she asked for an apology, she was fired.

An employment tribunal held: “The effect was undoubtedly humiliating, degrading and offensive. The claimant was being probed about her private life.”

Ms de Groen was brought up in an Orthodox household until she was 16, when she moved to Israel. She returned three years later having rejected Orthodoxy, but still adhering to her Jewish beliefs. She worked at the nursery for four years.

The tribunal concluded that a male teacher would not have been treated in such a way, and that the root of the problem was the differing interpretation of their religion.

A remedy hearing will take place at a later date (unless it settles). I hope she gets a big compensation payment.

Click here to read the judgment.


Who doesn’t enjoy some free guidance? You don’t? You make me sick! For everyone else:

  • The Department for Work and Pensions has published updated Fit for Work guidance. Click here to read it.
  • The Government Equalities Office has published a new toolkit on Gender Pay Gap reporting. Click here to read it.

Employment Law in the News

What is it with universities in Bath?

The vice-chancellor of Bath Spa University, Prof Christina Slade, was paid a total pay package in her final year of £808,000, which included £429,000 “for loss of office” on top of her £250,000 salary and other benefits.

A spokeswoman for the university said:

• “We paid a sum which reflected Prof Slade’s contractual and statutory entitlements, and represented value for money”;

• the vice-chancellor’s salary was decided by a pay committee, which did not include the vice-chancellor or staff; and

• the committee was “mindful of the need to respond to concerns about excessive salaries.”

The revelations came on the day it emerged the retirement terms of Britain’s highest paid vice-chancellor are being investigated by a watchdog.

Prof Dame Glynis Breakwell announced she was resigning from the University of Bath after a row over her £468,000 salary.

Sally Hunt, general secretary of the University and College Union, said: “This simply cannot be allowed to continue; we need an urgent overhaul of how senior pay and perks [at universities] are determined.”

On being told her final pay package, Prof Slade reportedly punched the air and yelled: “It’s Christmaaaaaaassssss!”

Click here to read the article.


He is just a poor boy, though his story’s seldom told 

A manager at Addison Lee has allegedly been filmed refusing a courier a job because he took another firm to tribunal.

Andrew Boxer had apparently already been offered a job when staff discovered he had won a claim against Excel couriers over paid holidays and minimum wage.

Mr Boxer allegedly started recording the exchange at Addison Lee’s offices after being questioned over the case during his induction last month.

He is being supported by the Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain, which says it will take legal action against Addison Lee for “trade union victimisation and blacklisting”.

Dave Smith, secretary of the Blacklist Support Group, said Mr Boxer’s treatment was “just one example of victimisation against workers prepared to stand up for the most basic entitlements. Blacklisting is increasingly rife among precarious workers.”

A spokesperson for Addison Lee said: “Addison Lee is committed to fair and respectful treatment of all its contractors. We are now reviewing the matter, and it would be wrong to comment further until that review is complete.”

Folk rock duo Simon & Garfunkel have unexpectedly weighed in on the matter and lamented about Mr Boxer: “Asking only workman’s wages, he came looking for a job. But he got no offers”.

Click here to read the article.


Birthday suit to work

Question: Can an employer demand that you go to work naked?

Answer: No of course not*. It’s a silly question.

*Unless you’re a nude model, a stripper** or you work in one of those drug labs I’ve seen on Breaking Bad***. Even then, it’s a badly worded question. You wouldn’t go to work naked. You’d get undressed there.
**I’m not being sexist. I know for a fact that there’s male strippers too. I’ve seen Magic Mike. (Now I’ve thought of four possible punchlines here but I can’t decide which one to use: (1) My wife made me watch it. I swear! or (2) Fifteen glorious times! or (3) Purely for research purposes! or (4) And MagicHere’s Mike XXL!).

***Actually, it might not have been Breaking Bad. It might have been The Wire. It might have been a film. I can’t remember and I’m not really sure it matters. You know what I’m banging on about.

Anyway, click here to read an interesting article on workplace dress codes.

You lazy lot!

According to a survey by Dropbox:

– One in five Brits admit they never work to the best of their ability in their jobs; and
– Nearly three-quarters said they don’t work to the best of their ability even once a week.

Brennan Jacoby, a philosopher at cultural institution The School of Life, which conducted the survey with Dropbox, said: “Fundamentally people have a natural inclination towards laziness and without clear roles and objectives we are drawn towards loafing and free riding.

“Often it’s not a lack of motivation causing this, more often it can be a lack of clarity.

“Give team members clear roles and responsibilities and the chances are productivity and happiness will rise.”

All I can think about is the magnificent “Office Space”.

Click here to read the article.

And you may ask yourself, “My God! What have i done?”

Facebook’s chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg has warned of a “backlash” against women in the workplace following recent high-profile sexual harassment scandals.

In a recent Facebook post, Ms Sandberg called for:
• clear principles and policies to be put in place because “too many workplaces lack clear policies about how to handle accusations of sexual harassment”; and

• training sessions on proper workplace behaviour, establishing an investigation process and taking all claims seriously while pursuing quick and decisive action.

She said: “We have to be vigilant to make sure this happens. I have already heard the rumblings of a backlash: ‘This is why you shouldn’t hire women’.”

Sadly, I can’t say I’m surprised at that pathetic attitude because, to quote Talking Heads, “same as it ever was”.

Some companies will always see the victims as the problem – especially when the harassers/bullies are making the company a lot of money. For example, Donald Trump reportedly believes that if a woman is harassed, she – not the harasser – should leave the workplace.

And on that bombshell, to conclude this post by tying all the threads cleverly together, clickhere to watch a recent video of Trump “singing” Once in a Lifetime.

Click here to read the article.

If you would like advice on any of the issues raised in this week’s update, or indeed on any employment law issue, please email me or call me on 0113 468 8523 or 07538 237 920.

Have a great weekend.


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