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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 44379
Experience:  Qualified Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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I wonder if you can help. I am a sports commentator who

Customer Question

I wonder if you can help.

I am a sports commentator who formerly worked on a freelance basis for Eurosport.

I have been told there is no longer work with that broadcaster but today I have been informed that another production company, who I was due to work for this weekend cannot use me for their TV production because Eurosport won't take a programme with me on it.

As the production is with another company, is this legal?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 2 years ago.

Ben Jones :

Hello, my name is Ben and it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today.

Ben Jones :

So just to clarify, the work you had booked would have gone to Eurosport, albeit via another production company, but they are refusing t take it?

JACUSTOMER-pd5an2eu- : I am informed by the third party production company that Eurosport will not take the programme if I appear in it in any way (podium, doing interviews or pieces to camera and that I am not to voice the post race round up programmes.
Ben Jones :

So I take it you have lost out on this work as a result and they will not be paying you for it?

JACUSTOMER-pd5an2eu- : This has effectively blocked me performing my work on two post race productions and mean I cannot fulfil my full roll at the event itself this coming Sunday
JACUSTOMER-pd5an2eu- : The answer to that is that I am allowed to do live commentary for the race addressing spectators only for the race and confined to the commentary box, that is not being used for programmes and the event organisers are happy for me to continue doing that however I won't be allowed to do the other half of the work, that compromises my ability to work for the third party who I've worked for successfully in the past.
JACUSTOMER-pd5an2eu- : even if I did not appear on camera on the podium or conduct interviews I still would not be able to add my post race commentary to the two race round up programmes being produced and due to be aired for Eurosport.
JACUSTOMER-pd5an2eu- : My real concern is that Eurosport clearly could replicate this behaviour with any third party client that I work for, it would appear to me that that clearly impedes my right to work for a third party who were happy to use my skills.
JACUSTOMER-pd5an2eu- : I am very much afraid that if I do half of the job it will set a huge precedent.
JACUSTOMER-pd5an2eu- : If Eurosport's actions are illegal i am unsure whether to undertake a partial job be because I feel this might prejudice my case.
Ben Jones :

Whilst I understand the concerns about the channel replicating the same behaviour in the future, that would not necessarily be unlawful. They are nit preventing you from working for someone else, you are free to do so, but they just do not want to use any footage or commentary that you are included in. there is unfortunately nothing unlawful in that. They have the right to choose who they want to appear in their footage/commentary and they could very easily request from production companies that they do not use anything that involves you, or that it limits what you are involved with. You do not have the general right to provide the work and expect it to be accepted by the channel – you, as well as any other commentator, can provide you services for the commentary but in the end the channel can choose who to use and how much of their work they actually want. They are the ones that call the shots – they request the work and pay for it and they can decide whether they would prefer someone to do it or would rather avoid using someone. There would be some restrictions in their choice, for example in terms of discriminatory reasons, but in the absence of these it would not be unlawful. As an example, if they had requested that you are not to be used due to your gender, or age or race and so on – that could be discrimination and would be unlawful but if it is just a personal issue or even the fact you previously worked for them – that is not unlawful.

JACUSTOMER-pd5an2eu- : They refused to employ me after a serious bout of mental illness citing me a risk, during that bout whilst I was recovering I was falsely accused of a sexual crime which I did not commit and was swiftly cleared of by the police (2013 wasn't a great year for me). The commentary boss at Eurosport mistakenly copied me in to an email discussing that I was not to be employed ever again by them because of these things. In my mind that is discrination surely?
Ben Jones :

The criminal issue is not discrimination, but the mental health issue could be if it was serious enough to amount to a disability in law.

In the legal sense of the word, disability can have a broad meaning and there is no single list of medical conditions that qualify. Instead, to establish whether a person is disabled, they need to show that they meet the legal definition of a ‘disability’.

The Equality Act 2010 defines a disability as a “physical or mental impairment that has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on a person’s ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities”.

I will break this definition down:

  • Physical or mental impairment – this can include nearly any medical condition;
  • Substantial effect – the effect must be more than minor or trivial;
  • Long-term - the effect of the impairment must either have lasted or be likely to last for at least 12 months;
  • Normal day-to-day activities – these could include anything considered ‘normal’ in a person's normal daily routine (e.g. walking, driving, speaking, eating, washing, etc.)

If a person satisfies the above criteria, they will be classified as being disabled and will have automatic protection against discrimination, which means that they must not be treated unfavourably because of their disability. Therefore an outright refusal to work with you because of your disability could be unlawful and discriminatory but there must be a condition that amounts to a disability first and also that they cannot objectively justify their actions.

JACUSTOMER-pd5an2eu- : After the trauma of everything that happened I spoke with a stutter constantly, this lasted approximately three months, then became less constant but now still occurs during stressful situations, I have sought medical help since (and just before) all of this happened, it has now been exactly 12 months since the start of the issues. I am still able to work but not to my previous capacity and am riddled with paranoia and anxiety that has been magnified by Eurosport's treatment of me
Ben Jones :

do you get the stutter when you commentate?

JACUSTOMER-pd5an2eu- : No
Ben Jones :

ok in that case they may not be able to objectively justify using that as an excuse - had you experienced this problem whilst commentating then they could state that it is not a desirable quality for a commentator and they could potentially use it as a reason not to you use your services but if that does not affect your work then it is unlikely

Ben Jones :

Please let me know if this has answered your original question or if you need me to clarify anything else for you in relation to this? Thanks

Ben Jones :

Hello please let me know if this has answered your original question or if you need me to clarify anything else for you in relation to this? I just need to know whether to close the question or not? Thanks

Ben Jones :

Hi, can you please let me know about the status of this question, it is still in my open queue, thanks

Ben Jones :

I can see you are accessing this thread daily but I am not getting any responses from you, can you please get back to me to confirm if you need me to keep this thread open or if your query has been answered? Thanks

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