An Employment Tribunal has awarded Millennium & Copthorne Hotels £432,000 for its costs following a claim brought by its former senior vice president for procurement, which the Tribunal held he pursued unreasonably. It is believed to be, says its lawyers Royds Withy King, one of the largest costs awards made in the UK by the Employment Tribunal.
The award follows claims brought by Mr Chee Hwee Tan in 2017 for unfair dismissal, age discrimination, race discrimination, sex discrimination, victimisation, harassment, whistleblowing and unfair deduction from wages.
The Employment Tribunal, in its decision, found Mr Tan to be ‘duplicitous’, acting in a way to ‘undermine the trust and confidence’ between the two parties, with no evidence of discrimination or harassment. All claims failed and where dismissed.
The size of the costs awards reflects the extraordinary lengths Mr Tan went to over a prolonged period of time to wrongly implicate senior executives, that extended to over 3,000 pages of documents before the Tribunal and which included numerous covert recordings of staff.
Jonathon Grech, Millennium & Copthorne’s Group SVP and General Counsel said: “Millennium & Copthorne always strives to be an employer of choice. What we cannot ignore is a claim that seeks to make wholly unfounded attack on such values without any merit whatsoever, and we are pleased that the judgment wholly supported our position.
“Spurious claims such as this take up a huge amount of time to deal with, both for ourselves and the Employment Tribunal system. It is right that an appropriate message has been delivered by the Tribunal regarding such disingenuous claims.”
David Israel, a Partner in the Employment Law team at Royds Withy King representing Millennium and Copthorne Hotels, said: “This was quite clearly a vexatious claim with no grounding in reality. Mr Tan was given plenty of opportunity to withdraw his claim yet chose to proceed and attempt to manipulate the system in the full knowledge that he would lose.
“All too often companies decide, for perfectly legitimate commercial reasons regardless of the merits of the claim, to settle claims brought by disgruntled employees before it reaches the courts. Employment Tribunals rarely award costs, even if someone is unsuccessful, and when they do the average award made would only be £2,400.
“In this instance, the claims and the actions of Mr Tan could not be ignored and his attempts to manipulate the reality of what occurred needed to be defended as the claim sought to attack everything the company stood for. This decision should serve as a warning to employees bringing unfounded and vexatious claims.”
Israel adds: “We fully expect employers having to face an increase in the number of employment tribunal claims as the furlough scheme ends and businesses having to make difficult decisions on staffing. For those that elect to bring claims without merit, this Judgment will at least provide a ‘sense check’ before pursuing such claims.”