They are an employee’s chance to fight for their rights and an employer’s opportunity to defend their decisions.
Covering a range of issues, including discrimination, unfair dismissal, victimisation and breach of contract, tribunals can be fascinating.
They also act as a library of lessons for HR professionals to learn, with examples of how and how not to handle workplace conflicts and legal disagreements.
These are the 10 most-read employment tribunals on our website in 2023:
1 - Customer sales assistant sacked for being AWOL when she was actually on holiday was unfairly dismissed, tribunal rules
A Tesco sales assistant who had worked at the supermarket for 26 years was unfairly dismissed after she was “erroneously” declared absent without leave while she was on holiday.
Tesco accepted the dismissal was based on a belief Churcher was not on annual leave and offered to re-engage her. But, while her decision to reject the offer was not “unreasonable”, the tribunal said Churcher did not mitigate her losses as she claimed “shops were shut” in the pandemic.
Her claims of breach of contract, unauthorised deduction from wages and unfair dismissal were upheld.
She was awarded almost £5,000.
2 - Jaguar Land Rover ordered by tribunal to pay £147k after accusing ex-employee of not trying hard enough to find a new job
Jaguar Land Rover has been told to pay a former employee £147,000 for unfair dismissal and discrimination after wrongly accusing him of not trying hard enough to find a new job.
The decision was made at a remedy hearing in July, which followed an earlier tribunal ruling that Daniel Williams had been unfairly dismissed and discriminated against by Jaguar Land Rover.
At the remedy hearing, Jaguar Land Rover’s legal representative Mr T Perry argued for lower compensation on the grounds that Williams had not done enough to find alternative employment.
However, the tribunal heard that he had retrained as a plumber and, while on the one-year training course, looked for manufacturing work, seasonal employment and work as a plumber’s mate.
Employment judge Sara Woffenden and Mr KW Hutchinson ruled that Jaguar Land Rover should pay the claimant compensation for unfair dismissal and discrimination in the sum of £147,572.75.
3 - Bus driver who lost his licence after having stroke and was later fired on medical grounds was unfairly dismissed, tribunal rules
A bus driver who was unable to carry out his duties and lost his PCV licence following a stroke has won a claim for unfair dismissal after being fired on medical grounds.
The East London tribunal found that Mr Z Farooqi had his employment at East London Bus and Coach Company (ELBCC) terminated, despite OH deeming him fit to work with some minor adjustments.
The tribunal ruled that it would have been reasonable to dismiss Farooqi for not having a PCV licence following the stroke – which allowed him to legally drive a passenger vehicle – as that was part of his employment terms. But it said dismissing him on medical grounds when he made improvements was outside the band of reasonable responses.
4 - Warehouse worker sacked after colleague found online video of him being confronted by paedophile hunters was unfairly dismissed, tribunal rules
A warehouse worker who was sacked after a colleague discovered an online video of him being confronted by paedophile hunters while waiting to meet a 14-year-old girl was unfairly dismissed, a tribunal ruled.
The Leicester tribunal heard that the claimant was recorded by two individuals who approached him, claiming he was en route to meet a 14-year-old girl.
Although he did not dispute being in the video, shot in 2016, the tribunal heard that it was edited and that the two individuals who approached him beat him up and that one had subsequently been arrested for forging evidence.
After police investigated the claims, the Crown Prosecution Service opted not to prosecute the claimant.
The claims for unfair dismissal were successful and Gypsumtools was ordered to pay him a total of £21,449.93.
5 - Truck driver who was sacked then reinstated amid fuel-skimming claims told to pay ex-employer £21k after pursuing ‘perplexing’ bid for compensation
A truck driver who was sacked then reinstated amid fuel-skimming allegations was ordered to pay her former company £21,000 after pursuing a “perplexing” bid for £50,000 compensation from the company.
Tatjana Pogiene had initially been dismissed from logistics firm Debach Enterprises after data showed that fuel was missing – or being ‘skimmed’ – from her truck. However, after an investigation found the data to be faulty, she was reinstated with full compensation from the date of the dismissal to the date of her reinstatement.
The Norwich tribunal heard Pogiene then sought compensation for her dismissal, even though she had been warned by the court that her case “had little reasonable prospect of success”.
The tribunal “was unanimous in [its] view” that her claims of constructive unfair dismissal and unlawful deduction of wages were “doomed to fail from the outset” and she should pay her former employee thousands of pounds to cover the cost of the tribunal.
6 - Bakery assistant with 24 years of service ‘forced’ out of her department after raising a grievance was unfairly dismissed, tribunal rules
A bakery assistant who claimed she was “forced” out of her department after she raised a grievance against her line manager was constructively unfairly dismissed, a tribunal has ruled.
The Edinburgh tribunal found that Mrs H Barclay – who had worked at Asda for 24 years with no “issues” – was not “sufficiently supported by management” and was moved to another department against her wishes.
It also found that Asda ignored “red flags” in relation to her mental health, which was determined to be caused by “occupational stressors”.
7 - Worker asked by HR business partner to obtain further medical evidence was discriminated against and unfairly dismissed, tribunal rules
A disabled quality control technologist who was absent from work for nine months was unfairly dismissed and discriminated against after his employer put the “onus” on him to obtain medical evidence on his return to work and failed to provide him with reasonable adjustments, a tribunal has ruled.
The West Midlands Tribunal determined that Wealmoor Limited (WL) “is and was” required to make reasonable adjustments for Mr R Poniatowski and other staff with disabilities.
This should have involved treating him “differently” to other staff by not dismissing him and by investigating and making reasonable adjustments.
The tribunal ruled that the employer had not established that treating everyone the same was a “legitimate aim” because it was of itself “discriminatory”.
8 - Farm shop worker who did not accept ‘reasonable’ alternative employment during redundancy was unfairly dismissed, tribunal rules
A farm shop worker who refused an alternative offer of employment during her redundancy period and then changed her mind was unfairly dismissed, a tribunal has ruled.
The Croydon tribunal found that Mrs D Love – who worked for MB Farm Produce (MBFP) for seven years and was considered a “good worker” – refused an offer to work in its Stockbury shop as she is an anxious driver.
However, she changed her mind in her notice period and attempted to accept the role on a trial basis. But Mr Brown, her employer, refused to let her commence the role on that basis, which was not in the range of reasonable responses, the tribunal ruled.
9 - An office worker who was excluded from a company-wide ‘free day off’ then not sent job adverts while on maternity leave was discriminated against, tribunal rules
An office worker has been awarded £50,000 by a tribunal after she was excluded from a ‘free day off’ and her employer failed to send her job adverts while she was on maternity leave.
The Cambridge tribunal heard that Greatwell Homes Limited had failed to keep Ms R Smith informed of opportunities for career progression, even though she had been encouraged to apply for promotions before she informed them she was pregnant.
It ruled that Smith’s reputation in the firm as a “an effective and useful member of staff” had been “eroded by the knowledge that she had become pregnant and was on maternity leave”.
Despite the firm accepting it had not complied with its own maternity policy in not informing of her any job vacancies, it “sought to point the finger at the claimant” and did not “appear to accept any fault”, the tribunal ruled.
10 - Teacher given ‘damning’ reference after failing to return to work following sickness was unfairly dismissed and victimised, tribunal rules
A geography teacher who failed to return to work after a sickness absence prompted by “work-related stress” was unfairly dismissed and then victimised after receiving a “damning” reference from his employer, a judge ruled.
The Manchester Employment Tribunal found Iqbal Haq’s dismissal from Marsden Heights Community College (MHCC), part of the United Learning Trust, amounted to “procedural unfairness” after the school dismissed him before he returned from a doctor-certified sick leave. The tribunal consequently heard that the trust's decision was “rushed”.
However, employment judge Joanne Dunlop noted that if a fair process had been followed, Haq still faced an “85 per cent chance” of dismissal after refusing to attend performance meetings for months because of his “pride and obstinance”.
Haq’s claims of unfair dismissal and victimisation were successful, but his claims of racial discrimination and harassment were not upheld.