It has today been revealed by way of a mutually agreed statement that Ms Donna Traynor has reached a settlement with her former employer the BBC.
Donna Traynor is an award-nominated journalist and presenter who is a household figure in Northern Ireland, having been the former main anchor of BBC Newsline. She had been working at the BBC for over 33 years prior to her resignation on 15 November 2021 with immediate effect.
Following the first day of an Employment Tribunal claim in Northern Ireland against the BBC, the representative acting on behalf of Donna Traynor, Patrick Lyttle KC, made submissions which included allegations that Ms Traynor client faced "bullying and harassment" related to "age discrimination, sex discrimination and disability discrimination".
Further into submissions, it was revealed that Ms Traynor had been offered voluntary redundancy with a number of other presenters who presented shows in excess of 30 minutes per week. This led to a number of colleagues leaving on a voluntary basis, but Ms Traynor did not apply. Following this process, two new advertisements for presenters were announced just weeks after their departure. Ms Traynor's representative stated: "This raises the suspicion that this was a ruse to ease out the older presenters – this was age discrimination."
Following this, discussions were opened with Mr Smyth, the head of news, to move Ms Traynor from her 5 days per week contracted televised role to presenting the Evening Extra radio programme several evenings per week. This would have been a diminished role despite confirmation from Mr Smyth in December 2018 confirming: "her role as a BBC Newsline presenter would not be diminished".
Ms Traynor raised concerns with management and filed a formal grievance, where she stated she was being used to settle the gender imbalance at Radio Ulster. Furthermore, she raised concerns that her disability, being deaf in her left ear, would prevent her from working in radio.
Ms Traynor resigned on 15 November 2021 and a tribunal hearing was heard for the first day on 31 May 2023. The BBC and Mr Smyth denies the allegations and claims.
Proceedings on the second day were dominated by legal discussions and no evidence was heard by the tribunal.
On 2 June 2023, the third day of tribunal, an agreed statement between the parties was read which stated:
"The dispute between Donna Traynor and the BBC and Adam Smyth has ended, without any admission of liability on the part of either respondent.Donna Traynor acknowledges the BBC and Adam Smyth continue to refute strongly all the allegations made against them, including the claims made on the opening day of the tribunal.The parties are pleased that this matter has been brought to a conclusion and intend to put it behind them."
At Giambrone & Partners our lawyers urge all parties in a potential employment dispute to consider the merits of Alternative Dispute Resolution to resolve disputes prior to litigation or proceedings.
Cameron Jack, in the employment law department, stated: "bringing a claim fore an employment tribunal in England and Wales can be expensive and time consuming, both for an employer and an employee. I urge all of our clients, whether they are an employer or an employee, to consider the benefits of amicable and friendly settlement discussions both on an open basis and a without prejudice basis, in the view of reaching a mutually beneficial settlement." Cameron further commented, "these discussions can often mean that a swifter settlement can be reached between the disputing parties in commercially sensitive matters and reduces legal costs."
It is important to raise any grievance in the workplace as soon as possible and in accordance with the internal grievance policy and the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) Code of Practice on disciplinary and grievance procedures. If there is no response or an inadequate reaction you should then take legal advice as soon as possible. Employment law claims are time sensitive and specific legal advice should be sought as soon as possible to ensure your claim is not out of time. It is important not to leave matters to the last minute.
In the case of Ms Traynor, a Settlement Agreement will have been reached between the parties which is private. It is likely the agreement will include terms of confidentiality on behalf of both of the employee and the employer, with no admission of liability on the part of either party as well as terms regarding compensation.
At Giambrone & Partners our employment lawyers have extensive experience in attempting to negotiate settlement to employment disputes on behalf of an employee or an employer. It is always advisable to consider the potential award in a dispute, the associated litigation risks, costs of litigation and the commercial impact the dispute may have when considering reaching a settlement, so that all parties can move forward towards a mutually agreeable outcome.
Cameron studied both English law and Scots law and graduated from the University of Dundee.
Cameron has considerable expertise in both family law and employment law are is also part of the LGBT+ team at Giambrone & Partners LLP.
He advises on a wide range of family law, including complex contentious matters. He specialises, in particular, in divorce and financial remedy proceedings, assisting clients with financial agreements and child arrangements. Cameron assists international clients on their family affairs. He also often assists LGBT+ clients and is empathic to the personal circumstances of clients.
Cameron has also advised in high-value financial cases where he has assisted in resolving complicated financial disputes involving assets in family businesses and trusts and is well-regarded by clients.
Cameron's expertise also extends to employment law where he specialises in mediation and dispute resolution. He works tirelessly to resolve complex situations for his clients working tirelessly to resolve complex situations for his clients