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Does Michelle’s underwear case reveal more than we need to know?

Posted on Feb 15, 2014 By In Employment news

The high profile case of Scotland’s underwear entrepreneur Michelle Mone shows once again how Employment Tribunals continue to attract massive public interest.

According to media coverage of this case, Ms Mone – of Ultimo bra frame – was ‘very demanding’ on one of her accountancy staff. Hugh McGinley, an accountant with her firm, MJM International, is claiming unfair dismissal from his £37,000-a-year job, seeking compensation of £20,000 for loss of earnings.

But it is the level of personal detail that often gives a tantalising glimpse of how people live. In this case, the tribunal heard that Costco membership had been used by six employees, and it was removed from them, so that only Ms Mone and her mother, Isobel, held the company’s card. Whether this is a relevant piece of information, only the tribunal judge can tell, but it does raise some eyebrows.

At a recent seminar, organised by United Employment Lawyer Ben Thornber, of Thornber Employment Law in Fife, delegates heard first-hand of a recent case where an employer’s personal details were revealed.  It was said at the seminar that this kind of detail far exceeded that which is required for criminal trials.

There was also concern raised about opening gambits where assertions were made provoking lurid headlines. Then subsequent submissions refuting such assertions went unreported.  It showed that an Employment Tribunal has the potential to damage reputations and a company’s brand and standing.

So businesses and individuals should now think long and hard about this route. An Employment Tribunal should be a last resort when all other avenues of compromise have been explored. Far better to sit down and resolve matters before they reach such a public position. Whatever way we look at life, Employment Tribunals will continue to attract and fascinate the public. Whether this is prurient schadenfreude or a genuine public interest to ensure that justice is done, it does depend on the case and your personal point of view.