Employment and Equalities
Thomas’s range of employment work includes acting for claimants and respondents in multi-day and multi-party cases, and encompasses all forms of discrimination as well as the operation of the TUPE regulations, unfair dismissal, whistleblowing, claims for wages and breach of contract (including bonus schemes), and protective awards regime under TULRA 1992.
Thomas recently appeared for the claimant in the EAT by way of recent submissions opposing the respondent/appellant’s Notice of Appeal at a preliminary hearing under paragraph 11(8) of the EAT Practice Direction 2013. The appellant sought permission to challenge the decision of the employment tribunal to uphold the claimant’s claim that he had been unfairly dismissed for whistleblowing. Permission to appeal was refused.
Thomas also appeared in the EAT for the respondent employer in Kisoka v Ratnpinyotip  ICR D17 successfully resisting the claimant’s appeal in circumstances where the employer had taken the decision to dismiss the claimant and then referred the claimant’s appeal to an external panel which had concluded that the claimant should be reinstated. Unpersuaded by the panel’s investigation and reasoning, the employer had then reaffirmed the original decision to dismiss. In dismissing the claimant’s appeal, Singh J declined to put any gloss on the statutory language of section 98(4) ERA 1996 as to how employers should treat decisions of external appeal panels and held that the tribunal had been correct simply to ask itself whether or not the respondent had acted reasonably in all the circumstances. The judgment is the first appellate decision on this particular point.
Thomas was also instructed to draft the Answer to a Notice of Appeal presented by a respondent who had been found by the employment tribunal to have failed to pay the claimant the enhanced redundancy pay to which she was entitled, and found that the claimant was entitled to recover her statutory redundancy pay as well as an amount in respect of the excess not exceeding £25,000, that being the maximum award within the tribunal’s contractual jurisdiction. The appeal was withdrawn following service of the Answer.
Recently Thomas has also acted for the successful parties in cases which have included: a finding of constructive unfair dismissal and an award of £50,000 in favour of a claimant client; a 4-day hearing of claims for unfair dismissal and disability discrimination following a dismissal from the London ambulance service for ill-health leading to a substantial agreed sum in compensation for the claimant client; the successful defence of a solicitors’ firm against claims for unfair dismissal for gross misconduct and race discrimination; and the successful defence of a retirement home against claims of unfair dismissal and age discrimination under the (repealed) Employment Equality (Age) Regulations 2006.
Other unfair dismissal cases of interest have involved: the application of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 in relation to an employer’s policy of obtaining Enhanced Disclosures in respect of certain categories of staff; the reasonableness of reliance by a major high-street retailer on health and safety audits in dismissing for alleged misconduct; and the circumstances in which a volunteer charity worker might be an employee within the meaning of the ERA 1996.
Recent discrimination cases have addressed: whether the alleged verbal abuse of a ‘nationality-specific’ nature was because of the claimant’s nationality / national origins for the purposes of the Equality Act 2010; the point at which the burden of proof shifts to the employer in a claim of age discrimination; and alleged pregnancy-related discrimination in circumstances where the claimant’s male colleague covering her maternity leave was said to have been offered training and promotion not notified or offered to the claimant.
Thomas has appeared at numerous review and remedies hearings in the tribunal, including the application of the Kwik Save test to applications to review default judgments obtained by claimants.
Thomas also has recent experience of applying for interim relief and representing parties at judicial mediation.
Furthermore, Thomas advises employees and employers on the scope and enforceability of restrictive covenants in employment contracts. Recent clients have included a firm of solicitors regarding a new member of staff joining the firm from a similar firm in the same geographical area.
Thomas also regularly gives talks to solicitors and employers/HR professionals on topical employment law issues. Recent topics have included when and how to bring different types of employment claims in the ET or county courts, and practical approaches to preliminary hearings and judicial mediation.
Thomas is a member of the Employment Law Bar Association and the Industrial Law Society.
Before coming to the Bar, Thomas was a professional guitar player and in his spare time still plays electric, steel-string and classical guitar.