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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 50209
Experience:  Qualified Employment Solicitor
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My question is whether in your opinion I would have a case

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hi, my question is whether in your opinion I would have a case for sex discrimination, I have worked for my employer (small voluntary sector org) for 7 years as a HR advisor and then a HR and Operations Team Leader, after my second child I returned to work on a 22 hr a week flexible contract which also included working from home. A new CEO started with the org the same time I went on annual leave for 3 weeks for my wedding and honey moon, on my first day back I was told my subordinate the HR and Ops coordinator (male, fulltime post) which I have been line managing for 1 year was now the Operations manager (a position which did not exist in the current org structure, and a post with very similar if not the same as mine) I was told that the organisation would be paying for him to complete his CIPD diploma, I had been trained to a certificate level (paid by the org).
I asked why he was now ops manager, why did not involve me as his line manager in the decision, how could I line manage someone trained to a higher level, it is unfair that it had been offered when I as the HR manager had not had that level of CIPD training, and that it was not appropriate/ necessary for the size of the org (16 staff) to have 1 ½ time staff HR trained. I was told that I am now his equal, she made this very clear to me. Also she said “you were not here and when I asked anyone a question they would say ask Ben he will know, She said she needs someone here every day that is CIPD trained and that I couldn’t do the hours because of the children” I never said this.
I said to her, before I had Florence (22months old) I offered the organisation to do fulltime HR, but was told I couldn’t due to budget restraints. I also said that my current flexi contract is due to having a daughter under 2 1/2, and I can’t afford further childcare costs, when I can claim government funding(in 6months time) I can do further office hours and that I have always made this clear to LAMP including my Line manager Julia Ruck. It also explains this in my official request to the organisation to come back to work after mat leave on a flexi contract which was approved. I said I was surprised my line manager has not made Sue (CEO) aware of this, and I am also surprised that these decisions were made before I returned from my annual Leave without any discussion.
she said she had assumed the above and didn’t know that. I said I was surprised I hadn’t been consulted with and the decisions were made in my absence whilst on my honey moon.
Various other meetings were had, the above is the simplified/main issue, however since then I believe I am being forced out of my post, for example my line management responsibilities have gone from 4 staff to 1, Ben has been given instant authority to carry out complex HR tasks which would be solely my responsibility, a new organisational structure has been put forward with my role being HR Manager with no explanation of my role, duties etc, and I have now been restricted access to a computer drive which I use to carry out many of my tasks, and been told to cancel appointments and put on hold all pending HR tasks to complete my appraisal, after asking for an explanation for restricting my access to the computer drive I was told something has come to light and it is being investigated, as HR lead I would carry out investigations, I can only assume the investigation involves me but I haven’t been informed.
kind regards Charlotte

Hello, my name is***** am a qualified lawyer and I will be assisting you with your question today. What are you hoping to achieve in the circumstances?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I cannot continue to work for this employer as it has become untenable and I feel very unsafe in their methods, I intend to leave, so I would like to know whether I should take the matter further before I leave, eg grievance ...etc tribunal, cut my losses and leave quietly or whether I am in a position to ask for redundancy/payoff as they clearly want me to go.

Sorry I was offline by the time you had replied last night. I can see potential sex discrimination issues there but obviously due to the limited amount of information it would be difficult for me to say exactly how strong of a case it is as this needs to be established through a formal case analysis, which we cannot realistically do via this platform.

But in terms of taking this further I can explain your options in more detail. In addition to discrimination this could also potentially amount to constructive dismissal, which occurs when the following two elements are present:

· Serious breach of contract by the employer; and

· An acceptance of that breach by the employee, who in turn treats the contract of employment as at an end. The employee must act in response to the breach and must not delay any action too long.

A common breach by the employer occurs when it, or its employees, have broken the implied contractual term of trust and confidence. The conduct relied on could be a single act, or a series of less serious acts over a period of time, which together could be treated as serious enough (usually culminating in the 'last straw' scenario).

The affected employee would initially be expected to raise a formal grievance in order to officially bring their concerns to the employer's attention and give them an opportunity to try and resolve them. If the issues are so bad that the employee can't even face raising a grievance and going through the process, or if a grievance has been raised but has been unsuccessful, then they can consider resigning straight away.

If resignation appears to be the only option, it must be done without unreasonable delay so as not to give an impression that the employer's breach had been accepted. Any resignation would normally be with immediate effect and without providing any notice period. It is advisable to resign in writing, stating the reasons for the resignation and that this is being treated as constructive dismissal.

Following the resignation, the option of pursuing a claim for constructive dismissal and/or sex discrimination exists. There is a time limit of 3 months from the date of resignation to submit a claim in the employment tribunal, although the claim for discrimination is 3 months from the date of the alleged discriminatory conduct.

An alternative way out is to approach the employer on a 'without prejudice' basis (i.e. off the record) to try and discuss the possibility of leaving under a settlement agreement. Under a settlement agreement, the employee gets compensated for leaving the company and in return promises not to make any claims against the employer in the future. It is essentially a clean break, although the employer does not have to agree to it so it will be subject to negotiation. In any event, there is nothing to lose by raising this possibility with them because you cannot be treated detrimentally for suggesting it and it would not be used against you.

This is your basic legal position. I have more detailed advice for you in terms of the official claims process and how you can pursue that, which I wish to discuss so please take a second to leave a positive rating for the service so far (by selecting 3, 4 or 5 stars) and I can continue with that and answer any further questions you may have. Don’t worry, there is no extra cost and leaving a rating will not close the question and we can continue this discussion. Thank you

Ben Jones and other Employment Law Specialists are ready to help you

Thank you. If it comes to you having to resign or make a claim for sex discrimination, then before you can actually submit your claim you are required to go through mandatory early conciliation with ACAS. This requires prospective claimants to notify ACAS and provide details of their intended claim and they would then try to negotiate between the claimant and respondent to seek out of court settlement in order to avoid having to take the claim to the tribunal. It is possible for the parties to refuse to engage in these negotiations, or that they are unsuccessful, in which case they would get permission to proceed with making the claim in the tribunal.

If negotiations are initiated and settlement is reached, then the claimant would agree not to proceed with the claim in return for the agreed financial settlement.

The conciliation procedure and the form to fill in can be found here:

In terms of the time limits within which a claim must be presented, the early conciliation process places a ‘stop’ on that and the time between notifying ACAS and them issuing permission to proceed with the claim would not count for the purposes of these time limits.