January 21, 2010

About the University of Leicester...

I am an academic employment lawyer. In November 2007 I brought a claim in the Employment Tribunal (ET) at Leicester against my former employer, the University of Leicester, the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Robert Burgess, and the (now former) Director of Personnel Services, Dr Alison Hall.

I had resigned from my post as lecturer in the University's Department of Law in May 2007. The core allegations in my claim were disability discrimination (against all three respondents), constructive unfair dismissal (against the University) and detriment and/or dismissal for having made protected disclosures (against the University). I lodged a second claim with the ET against the above three respondents in 2008. This claim alleged continuing disability discrimination. The respondents denied the allegations.

In June 2009 an application was submitted to the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) on my behalf. This application was concerned with case management matters in the ET; there has been no determination by the ET of the merits of my claims.

A judgment was posted on the EAT website on 19th January 2010 (Dr G M Truter v (1) University of Leicester; (2) Professor R Burgess; (3) Dr A Hall). The judgment was written by Judge McMullen. I wish to issue a health warning about this judgment: some elements of a factual nature are not accurately or fairly described and significant issues are not identified. For instance, one would not know, on reading the judgment, that AFTER I informed the ET that I would be appealing certain orders and other matters to the EAT, the ET made an order stating that my claims would be struck out unless I complied with the relevant orders (a so-called 'unless order').

The ET refused to stay or postpone the ET proceedings until the appeal process had been completed. And the EAT refused to order the ET to do so. So, when matters were before the EAT, the ET struck out the claims. The unless order was one of the issues in my initial application to the EAT and when the ET struck out my claims, I asked the EAT to permit me to include an appeal against the striking out in my Notice of Appeal. Serious issues were raised in the EAT proceedings, relating to the legality of both the making of the unless order and the striking out of my claims.

Also not revealed in Judge McMullen's judgment is that one of my allegations in the EAT proceedings was apparent bias on the part of the ET, and that a question had been raised 11 months before the striking out of my claims as to whether the ET was in a position of a conflict of interest arising from associations or connections between the University of Leicester and the ET. There is documentary evidence suggesting associations or connections, though it is not clear from that evidence precisely which individuals this involves in the Tribunal system. No comment on this was made by, or requested from, the respondents; the question was never addressed by the ET. Apparently, the EAT was not troubled by this notwithstanding strict legal and ethical standards requiring such questions to be addressed.

The EAT judgment seems to give the green light to Employment Tribunals to take what may have the appearance of revenge, with impunity, on a party who has alleged apparent bias, by 'killing off' a claim when the ET's warning to kill off the claim has been referred to the EAT. I consider this to be a shocking state of affairs, especially in a legal system generally considered to be advanced.

The issues mentioned above are some of several in my case that I believe to be of considerable public interest. All of these matters will be aired in due course. If anyone wishes in the meantime to read the submissions made on my behalf that are not identified in Judge McMullen's judgment, the documentation can be obtained from the EAT.

I wish to end by expressing my solidarity with those of you struggling with a sense of injustice or any distress arising from the great evil that is bullying, which seems to be so pervasive in our society.

Glynis M. Truter
LL.B. (Hons.) (London), PG Dip. Legal Practice (College of Law), LL.M. (London), Ph.D. (Cambridge)

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Lack of fairness or honesty on the part of judges is a serious matter of public concern. In the case of ET and EAT this is not just a hypothetical problem, there is reason to believe that the conduct and findings of some of these judges (ie Judge McMullen) are unacceptable.

Ben Hirst said...

Distortion of concerns are very familiar with practices that are carried out with disciplinary processes. This is certainly the case at the University of Leicester.

Anonymous said...

it seems to be always about who you know as opposed to what you know. the legal system seems to be in this case secondary issue and important one, primary issue in order to prevent further damage to other individuals is to warn them about the instituation that abused you, which you did so well done on that, thank you for making us all aware. there are many of us in similiar situation and a website listing all victims, their perpetrators and organizations to which these perpetrators represent would be helpful for future employees and students to save them money and the ordeal you went through!

Ben Hirst said...

Libelous the above comment please remove immediately.

Pierre-Joseph Proudhon said...

Ben, sites like this exist because workplace bullying in academia is a fact, and may I suggest you read the work of Professor of Sociology Kenneth Westhues on this theme. Plus, there are numerous reports on workplace bullying in academia, all of which you can find online. Putting your head in the sand will not make it go away.

Anonymous said...

I too was at the University of Leicester and having suffered due to academic bullying to the point of illness, they acted extremely aggressive towards me and the university had no concerns except how they will appear at the end of it. They even threatened me with legal action if I mentioned anything to others. An extremely corrupt university with staff that are highly incompetent.