September's top five employment law cases

People Management runs down the most read tribunals of the last month – from fictional characters to fuel mishaps

1. Pilot who listed Star Wars character as reference must repay training costs

A freight pilot who used a pseudonym for Star Wars villain Jabba the Hutt as a reference in his application must pay back almost £5,000 in training costs after the Birmingham Employment Tribunal dismissed his claims against airline West Atlantic.

Experts highlighted the importance of checking references properly, and recommended that employers build reference checking into their recruitment processes.

2. Employer who dismissed attempted kisses as cultural misunderstanding told to pay £24,000

A care worker whose employer dismissed her Spanish colleague's attempts to kiss her as a cultural misunderstanding has been awarded over £24,000 after winning her sex discrimination claim. Experts said the case highlighted the risks of choosing to "brush off" employees' concerns about inappropriate behaviour.

3. Worker who gave notice to leave department did not resign, rules EAT

The Employment Appeal Tribunal has ruled that a woman who announced she was moving departments with an ambiguously worded letter had not resigned. Patricia Levy successfully applied for an internal transfer at East Kent Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, and handed a letter to her manager that stated "Please accept one month's notice". When the transfer offer was withdrawn, her manager refused to allow her to retract her resignation. Levy filed a complaint of unfair dismissal in September 2016, which the EAT allowed.

4. Tanker driver who spilled fuel over forecourt wins £23,000 and his job back

A tanker driver who misread a Tesco petrol station tank indicator and spilled fuel over the forecourt won his case at the employment appeal tribunal after the judge decided his dismissal was "substantively unfair", although his conduct had been "culpable or blameworthy". Court documents showed that Mr Nolan's employer had been previously warned by Tesco staff that there was a possible sensor fault in the tank in question. However, Nolan had not been informed of this before the delivery.

5. Depressed worker not discriminated against by retirement process that took 13 months

The Court of Appeal ruled that a prison inspector with a depressive illness was not discriminated against after it took over a year to process his early retirement request, through what the judgment described as an "elaborate" process. After the employment tribunal allowed three of Mr Dunn's original 16 disability discrimination claims, the Ministry of Justice appealed, and the EAT reversed the decision. Dunn then brought the case to the Court of Appeal, which dismissed it.