Employment law update – October 2019
In this issue we cover the latest proposed protections for zero hours workers, how junior doctors could find themselves owed £250,000, and an important ruling on how holiday pay should be calculated for part year workers.
Wrongly calculated holiday pay
Harpur Trust v Brazel 
Tesco manager unfairly dismissed
An ex-Tesco manager, who said she was “left in the dark” about changes to her role and subsequently suspended for not accepting those changes, has won her case for unfair dismissal.
Vegetarianism not a philosophical belief
Conisbee v Crossley Farms Ltd and others
In an intriguing case, the Tribunal considered whether vegetarianism is a belief, and therefore a protected characteristic, or a ‘lifestyle choice’.
Mr Conisbee, the claimant, resigned after being told off for not ironing his shirt. As he’d only been employed for five months, he didn’t have the requisite period of employment to bring an unfair dismissal claim. Instead, he claimed he had suffered discrimination on the grounds of religion and belief due to his vegetarianism. Mr Conisbee claimed he’d been ridiculed for not eating meat, and that his colleagues had given him food contaminated with meat based products.
Although Mr Conisbee’s employer agreed that he had a genuine belief in his vegetarianism, they argued that being vegetarian is not a protected characteristic. It was also argued that it was never intended for lifestyle choices such as vegetarianism or veganism to fall within the remit of protected characteristics.
The Employment Tribunal agreed with the Employer. Interestingly though, the judge contrasted vegetarianism to veganism and the fact that vegans have a clear belief that killing and eating animals is contrary to a civilised society and against climate control. This indicated that a claim for veganism as a belief is more likely to succeed.
Although we don’t know the facts of the alleged discrimination, the concept of someone suffering discrimination for not eating meat is intriguing, not least as we were unlikely to have seen a claim like this a few years ago before veganism enjoyed the popularity it does today.
The Tribunal’s decision in this case seems highly sensible as finding in favour of Mr Conisbee could open the floodgates to similar ‘lifestyle’ claims. It is worth noting that the outcome may have been different had Mr Conisbee had the requisite 2+ years of service as he may have been able to successfully argue constructive dismissal on the basis that mutual trust and confidence had broken down. This, then, serves as a reminder to employers of the importance of promoting an inclusive working environment.
Employer claim response too generic
Upton-Hansen Architects v Gyftaki
Employment law update – August 2019
Welcome to this month’s update with topics as scorching hot as we would hope for weather in August!
This issue covers a change in the law for employment competition for the first time in 100 years, the biggest data breach penalty yet and an employee secretly recording a meeting with HR.
With changes to divorce legislation on the horizon, we also feature guest article from our family team with useful pointers on how employers can better support employees going through a divorce.
As always, our expert team are more than happy to answer any queries you may have.
Are you liable for an employee’s Facebook post?
Forbes v LHR Airport Ltd
Ruling on unreasonable covenants comes as a relief
Tillman v Egon Zehnder Limited.
Rise in demand for early reconciliation services
Following the abolition of tribunal fees in July 2017, the demand for early conciliation services has
continued to increase. The ACAS annual report shows a 20% increase in requests in the past year,
2.9% of which came from employers.