Employment – Discrimination – Victimisation – Three Step Procedure – Outside Time Limit

In the recent case of Mehta v University of London and others [2006], the applicant was a doctor who applied to the second respondent for medical training on 8th August 2003. The second respondent was a body within the University of London (the first respondent). On 6th October the applicant received a letter from the second respondent dated 2nd October. The letter stated that his application had been unsuccessful. The applicant claimed that he wrote back on 12th December to ask for detailed feedback as to why he had not been admitted to establish whether he had a legal claim against the respondents. He received no reply, and the second respondent claimed that no such letter was received.The applicant’s original application was presented to the Employment Tribunal on 13th January 2004 – he claimed discrimination and victimisation. On 17th January the Employment Tribunal dismissed the claim orally on the ground that it had been presented after the three month time limit. The Employment Tribunal also said it would not be just and equitable to extend the time limit. In addition, at a full hearing on 4th March, it was considered whether the other claims made by the applicant should be struck out due to the Employment Tribunal not having jurisdiction to hear them. Eventually, at the full hearing, the Employment Tribunal decided against the applicant – who promptly stormed out of the room.The respondents made an application for costs. The tribunal declined to consider the costs application in the absence of the applicant, and adjourned the case until 20th May. When the case came to be heard, one of the lay members who was present on 17th and 4th was absent, and the applicant was not happy to proceed with just two members.A new lay member was appointed and the Employment Tribunal heard oral and written evidence from both sides, as well as a witness statements and oral evidence from the applicant.The Employment Tribunal held that the costs of the hearings on the 4th and 20th were attributable to applicants unreasonable conduct in bringing his remaining claims which were both misconceived and unreasonable. The applicant appealed to the Employment Appeals Tribunal.His appeal was dismissed for the following reasons:* For the purposes of the three month time limit, time ran from the date of the act of discrimination or victimisation. The act which the applicant was relying on in bringing the claim was the failure by the respondent to shortlist him for a position on the training course. This occurred at the very latest by 6th October, when he received the letter rejecting him. As the original application was presented to the Employment Tribunal only on 13th January, the deadline had been missed and the Employment Tribunal had not erred in treating the application as being out of time.* It was clear that the Employment Tribunal had considered not proceeding with the claim. They decided that in the interests of the overriding objective they should appoint a new lay member in order to dispose of the issues before them fairly and expeditiously. The new Employment Tribunal heard extensive and new submissions from the applicant. This meant it was not inappropriate for them to consider the issues of fact relating to the March hearing, despite the Employment Tribunal being made up of only two of the original three members.© RT COOPERS, 2006. This Briefing Note does not provide a comprehensive or complete statement of the law relating to the issues discussed nor does it constitute legal advice. It is intended only to highlight general issues. Specialist legal advice should always be sought in relation to particular circumstances.

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