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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 49860
Experience:  Qualified Employment Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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I left my last job after raising to Human Resources two separate

Customer Question

I left my last job after raising to Human Resources two separate instances of team members displaying abusive and threatening behaviour towards me, and HR did not deal with them satisfactorily nor in line with the grievance procedure.
They dealt with it in a biased way to the effect of making me feel they subscribed to those behaviours until they managed me out of business.
In the first instance one team member threw a telephone handset in my direction and threatened to “destroy me”, plus told me he would perform a sexual act on me. We have witnesses.
HR did not bring the matter to closure and gave me no feedback whatsoever as to what action would be taken-but he kept his job.
The second guy was touchy feely and even poked me under my armpit to tickle me and slapped my foot as a joke (after I had just sprained my ankle).
HR completely ignored my request to deal with it, so I went to see the General Manager as I did not want to work with tis guy again.
He liaised with HR to check my file and reprimanded me that I had to start looking at myself and learn to get on with other people, as if I was the problem.
After such reprimand HR contacted me to arrange a follow up meeting, without having even spoke to the touchy feely guy, so I thought I was being cornered and resigned.
Now I intend to sue them as I was out of work for a few weeks so I lost money, and also for the stress.
How much time do I have to sue them and what should I sue them for exactly?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 2 years ago.
Hello, my name is***** am a solicitor on this site and it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today. How long did you work there for and when did you leave?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
I was there from October 2014 to September 2015, 11 months and 2 weeks.
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 2 years ago.
When did the incidents occur exactly?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
April 18th, August 14th
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 2 years ago.
The usual claim which you would have been able to pursue here is for constructive dismissal, where you were left in a position that forced you to resign. It is usually due to a serious breach of contract, either by the employer or its employees. However, you would not be able to pursue this claim because you require a minimum of 2 years’ service with the employer, which you do not have. It does mean that employees could be bullied out of their workplace and not be able to claim simply by not meeting the minimum criteria of having the required service. There are still claims which you can pursue which do not require a minimum length of service. These are mainly linked to discrimination, most commonly on grounds of age, gender, race, religion, etc. The most likely ground here is sexual discrimination but that would only be applicable if there was a sexual connotation to the behaviour you were subjected to. So you are looking at sexual harassment, which you can read more bout here: If you were to claim you have 3 months from the date of the alleged incidents (not resignation) so if the last incident occurred on 14 August then you have until 13 November to make your claim so time is quickly running out. Before you can claim you have to go through ACAS and use their early conciliation service to see if you can come to some sort of settlement with the employer (don’t worry the time limit pauses when you contact them but the initial contact must be made within this time limit). As to what you can claim, the usual remedy in discrimination claims would be to award compensation for injury to feelings. This is calculated by considering the level of discrimination that the claimant has been subjected to. The seriousness of the discriminatory behaviour is assigned to one of three ‘bands’ known as Vento bands, named after a court case with that name. The current compensation levels are as follows:· Lower band - for less serious cases, for example an isolated incident or event (£600 - £6,000)· Middle band - for serious cases which are not serious enough to fall within the highest band (£6,000 - £18,000)· Top band - for the most serious cases, for example if there has been a lengthy and calculated campaign of harassment/discrimination (£18,000 - £30,000) Yours will likely be the higher end of the Lower band. You could try and claim for loss of earnings but the tribunal may not necessarily agree – in any event, claim what you feel you wish to pursue and the tribunal will either accept or reject it, you won’t lose out by including something you believe you want to pursue, they will only say no if they do not believe it should be included. I trust this has answered your query. I would be grateful if you could please take a second to leave a positive rating (selecting 3, 4 or 5 starts at the top of the page). If for any reason you are unhappy with my response or if you need me to clarify anything before you go - please get back to me on here and I will assist further as best as I can. Thank you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Thank for the info.
What if I just sue them in a small claim court? Can I do that without ACAS (you need to be registered and I am not)?
Does the court not normally offer the mediation service after the lawsuit has been logged?
I was out of work for 5 week, which cost me about £1500. How much should I claim for injury to feelings-maybe £3500?
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 2 years ago.
I would not advise the small claims route for this type of claim as you may not be able to claim on all grounds there - the tribunal is still the preferred and most appropriate venue. I am not sure why you think you need to be registered with ACAS - everyone who wants to make a claim with the tribunal now has to go through ACAS and use them to negotiate with the other side. You are basically getting a free mediation service there (although you would get that too via the small claims court once the claim is lodged, but the difference is you have to pay the court fees in the courts, you do not have t pay any fees in the tribunal to use that service). As to the claim value, yes I would say somewhere in the middle of the band is reasonable so the figure you have is acceptable If your original question has been answered I would be grateful if you could please quickly rate my answer by selecting 3, 4 or 5 starts at the top of the page - it only takes a second to do and is an important part of our process. I can still answer follow up questions afterwards if needed. Thank you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Thanks, I'm almost done.
I know I can represent myself in a small claim court if which is why I intended to go with it, so to avoid legal costs on such a small claim. Would I lose this advantage in an employment tribunal?
And if so, would it not be arguably better to go with a small claim? Would I still need to go through ACAS?
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 2 years ago.
In an employment tribunal you can still represent yourself - there is certainly no requirement to have legal representation. So there would not be much of a difference in that respect. As to ACAS, they are only used in tribunal claims, there would not be involved if you went down the court route
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Might I be asked to pay the defendant legal costs if I lose the case in an employment tribunal? that would be most unwelcome, and I am sure it could not happen in small claim court.
So If I go with ACAS, we cannot reach an agreement and we get past the three months time frame for logging a claim with the small claim court, then can I still go with the small claim court or the employment tribunal is my only option left at that point?
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 2 years ago.
That is unlikely and you would generally be issued with a costs warning first so you know whether it's a genuine risk so you could discontinue the claim first if needed. But it is untrue to say you cannot be held liable for other side's costs in the small claims - it can still happen, although rarely and on limited grounds. If you miss the 3 month time limit on he tribunal then you can still go to the small claims court but the limit there is 6 months so you will only have a short window to make a claim
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Ok, thanks.
This is what I understand.
I could attempt an early reconciliation though ACAS before November 13th. The three month deadline to make a claim only applies to the employment tribunal. If the early reconciliation fails then I can either log a claim with the employment tribunal or go with a small court claim, where I would have a deadline of six months from the incident (meaning February 2016).
However, there are different fees with the employment tribunal depending on what the claim in about. In may case it is about assault/injury to feelings,/loss of earnings. Does that multiply the fee?
I'm not convinced about claiming for discrimination as the sexual connotation was not really what it was about or how it made me feel. I'm not clear how I would go about making the correct claim (claims?) for the above.
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 2 years ago.
Your understanding is correct. The issue with going to the employment tribunal is that you can only really claim on grounds of discrimination. You can only claim for injury to feelings if there was a discriminatory act and if there was no sexual slant to it, then it is unlikely it will be discrimination so a claim will probably not succeed. That rules out the tribunal route.
The small claims route is no better in the circumstances. You can only claim for discrimination there as well. You cannot just make a claim for assault, injury to feelings or loss of earnings – these must all be linked to a discriminatory act. So if there was no discrimination in the first place, then you cannot make any of these claims. You must therefore be able to show that there was sex discrimination because that is the only way you would be able to take this forward. You have nothing to lose by trying ACAS conciliation first as that is free but if it does not succeed then without a discriminatory act you cannot really take it any further. Hope this clarifies?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
April 18th, my colleague being frustrated with my alleged "bossiness" tells me "If you become my manager I will lick your balls". This was about my alleged arrogance, not sexual activity. I know how unsettling this was for me and I know that if I addressed a lady employee in equal terms ("I will lick you pussy") I will certainly get fired.
So where is my claim there exactly (if I have one given it is over 6 months ago)? Sexual harassment on part of the employee or discrimination from the employer (for condoning that in my case). Or maybe brach of contract from the employer for subscribing to that conduct by not following the grievance procedure and not bringing closure on the incident (never gave me any feedback)??
I am not sure where the discrimination is, I just see harassment.And why exactly would I not log a claim for assault given a staff member slapped me and tickled me under the armpit (August 2015)?
The fact the employer did not bring closure to these matters made it impossible for me to stick around. The employer had a duty to limit stress factors in the workplace and they did not, I was kept waiting for some bad stuff to happen.
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 2 years ago.
I am afraid I do not see sexual harassment here, which would have been the only claim you could bring in. A breach of contract for not following a grievance procedure will not get you very far either. This is something that would have had to be dealt with under a constructive dismissal claim but you cannot make that as you do not have 2 years’ service. When it comes to assault you cannot claim for it – you can make a complaint to the police about it as it is a criminal offence but that does not get you any compensation, it just means that if the police believe there to have been an assault worthy of being dealt with they can do so and perhaps issue a caution. I don’t want to sound negative but I do have to be realistic and in this case the chances of bringing in any type of claim are rather slim. So it is best you know your position before you start pursuing something you will not be able to take very far. As I have spent quite a lot of time answering your queries could you please take a second to leave your rating so I am credited for my time. I can still answer follow up questions if needed, thank you
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 2 years ago.
Hello, I see you have read my response to your query. 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? If your query has been dealt with please take a second to leave a positive rating by selecting 3, 4 or 5 starts from the top of the page. If you need further help please get back to me on here and I will assist as best as I can. Thank you.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
I don't understand why you say a claim for breach of contract will not get me very far. It's not about "very far".
I don't think my case is worth a fortune, but I think that breach of contract could still be worth the one month notice period (£1300), or something anyway. I though you might make that point to me...(I also think that if I log a claim with the small claim court for that amount they will probably will not fight it as it will not be worth their expenses - I've seen it happen before). By the way, I cannot go through ACAS as I got my dates wrong and now it's past the deadline.
And just out of curiosity, I have used this site a few times over the last few years, and somehow you are unfailingly the first lawyer that pops us to answer my question, as soon as it is posted.
How can that be (sheer curiosity)?
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 2 years ago.
Hello, when I say it won't get you very far, I really mean that it is not going to be a valid claim - where is the breach of contract here? It is not like the employer dismissed you and did not pay you the notice period due to you. You resigned, that was your decision. The reasons behind that would not amount to a breach of contract for which you can make a claim to pursue your notice period or anything else. So it is about being realistic, not just trying to pursue things which you feel strongly about but which you cannot make a claim for. On that note, I am afraid I will have to end my involvement with this question because it is becoming uneconomical for me to continue as I have not been credited for my time, which has been quite a lot on this matter. I hope your position has been explained
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 2 years ago.
Hello, do you need any further assistance or are you happy with the above response? Look forward to hearing from you.