The employees and workers in three significant organisations have recently all enjoyed an impressive level of success in the courts. Uber now has to recognise their drivers as workers, as opposed to being self-employed and provide them with the benefits that go with their newly acquired status such as paying holiday pay and the minimum wage. Asda now faces a lengthy and expensive fight with their in-store workers for equal pay following the Supreme Court decision that allowed the in-store workers to be compared with the distribution and warehouse staff in relation to equal pay. Jamie Oliver's troubled restaurant chain, now in administration, is facing a £500,000 payout to staff that lost their jobs when the business was forced to close, due to breaching the Trade Union Act 2016 which requires employers to consult with employees before any closures. When the business empire of Jamie Oliver collapsed two years ago the staff were informed of the collapse and the loss of their jobs through an email, leaving many employees understandably worried and upset at the sudden loss of income.
The tenacity of the workforces in the cases mentioned above demonstrates that disputes with large organisations can be undertaken by their employees and that they can win with right on their side. The power of group litigation should not be underestimated, particularly in relation to employment law where large numbers of employees may be caught in the same situation. If sufficient number of people affected by a breach in the law take the issue to court the argument put forward to the courts becomes far more compelling as it becomes more apparent that the organisation may be knowingly avoiding its obligations to its staff, rather than an issue concerning one individual passed off as an error.
It is understandable that one individual complaining about a breach in the law perpetrated by their employer, especially in the face of the silence of the remaining workforce, may very well be daunting. The enormity of the undertaking, together with the costs involved with a complex case, are often prohibitive.
Giambrone's expert employment lawyers, work closely with their colleagues in the litigation team, and are keenly aware that many employees and workers tolerate the imposition of unacceptable actions and conditions by their employers as they think their employer has more weight and deeper pockets to fend off a challenge. Also, the fear that the employer may take steps to penalise an employee for attempting to challenge their policies or behaviour. Often that takes the shape of dismissal.
A group enterprise can often reduce the costs to an extremely manageable level, enabling an injustice to be rectified and compensation obtained. Such action also has the effect of preventing an employer from taking any steps against a dissenting member of staff, as the argument presented by a large number of employees cannot be dismissed so readily when a substantial number of people all complain about the same issue.
The difficult commercial climate that businesses face at this time must not be used as a reason to treat their staff unfairly. All the protections that the current employment law offers employees still stands; including laws relating to discrimination, disability and safe working conditions. As well as the legal obligation of employers to conduct proper consultations during the course of redundancy procedures.
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