People who repeatedly bring spurious and unfounded claims before a court or tribunal are often referred to as vexatious litigants. While not always the case it seems that the motivations of these individuals is to cause as much frustration and annoyance to their former employer and other parties that they throw some money at the claim to make it go away.
In the most extreme situations these individuals can be put on a blacklist by the Tribunal which prevents them from raising other claims.
The Employment Appeal Tribunal has recently dealt with this very issue. Mr D Taheri made 43 claims in an eight-year period. He would apply for jobs and once unsuccessful would claim disability, race or age discrimination and demand thousands of pounds in compensation. Mr Taheri identified as Iranian and as someone who suffered from prostate cancer. Most of the claims were struck out for having no reasonable prospects of success and Mr Taheri withdrew many of them as well. A small portion of them were settled out of court.
The EAT concluded that Mr Taheri had “weaponised” the court system. They described his system of bringing claims “habitually and persistently” while subjecting companies to “inconvenience, harassment and expense”. It was also commented on that not one of the claims had been successful at the tribunal and that most had no basis in law.
In this case the EAT decided that Mr Taheri be handed down a restriction of proceedings order. This prevents him from raising an ET Claim without the prior consent of the EAT or a High Court judge. In this case, the restriction remains in place for an indefinite period of time.
For employers, the not so reassuring news is that the system is definitely vulnerable to abuse by these kinds of individuals. The best course of action is to seek legal advice when a tribunal claim comes in, as we can assess the merits of the claim being made. Additionally, while Mr Taheri was making spurious claims it is interesting that he chose to do this as an applicant for employment. Employers should make sure that their recruitment procedures are robust and that there are clear paper trails and reasons for all hiring decisions that are made.
If you have any questions on any of the issues mentioned in the above article, please contact Natalia Milne.