Compensation for brutal bar attack
Q: As a bar manager, I asked two customers to leave because they were drunk and abusive. My request was met with more abuse and one of the two then smashed a glass into my face. I lost an eye as a result of the attack, as well as my job because of the time I needed off work.
My employer said it was my own fault and refused to pay compensation. I have found out that the customers were in the bar for many hours before I started work and the manager before me did not warn of any potential trouble. What can I do?
A: You have a potential claim against your employer under the Health and Safety framework. This will include both a common law claim for breach of duty of care/breach of contract together with a breach of the Health & Safety legislation including the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974.
Your employer would also appear to be in breach of obligations under the reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrence Regulation 1985, which obliges an employer to advise the relevant Health & Safety Authority of the accident. You should contact the Local Health & Safety Office immediately and ask for guidance.
This injury, subject to establishing liability, is likely to lead to compensation being awarded and it is compulsory for employers to have insurance to cover this. Failure to do so is a criminal offence.
I recommend you contact the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board. Any action must be initiated within three years of the accident so seek legal advice as soon as possible from a personal injury specialist.
The Law Society or the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers will be able to recommend someone.
Can ex-employee sue after she quit?
Q: My accountant resigned of her own free will because she said she had another job. But her new job fell through and she is now suing me through an industrial tribunal, saying I made her life unbearable and forced her to resign. What can I do?
A: The only real claim she may make is constructive dismissal, where an employee resigns because of the employer's conduct.
The employer is held to be responsible for this "dismissal" if certain conditions are satisfied by the employee. If the claim really is bogus, the employee may have to pay some money to the tribunal as a condition of proceeding.
School-leaver's joke turns sour
Q: One of my school-leaver trainees has started to put salt in the sugar bowls for a joke and a number of guests have complained. What is my position?
A: This will constitute gross misconduct and entitles you, after proper procedures and investigation, to summarily dismiss the employee. This means that he or she will be entitled to notice.
If the employee is less then 18-years-old, however, he or she would not be able to claim unfair dismissal, anyway. Two years' continuous service is also required.
A question of equal pay for staff
Q: My male wine waiter says his job is worth the same as my female sous chef's and thinks his salary should be increased to match hers. Is he correct in this?
A: Under the Equal Pay Act 1970 (as amended), if someone is performing a job of "equal value" to a comparator of the opposite sex, the law inserts an equality clause into the contract of employment requiring the employee to be paid the same. If you do not agree, the matter may need to be resolved by an independent expert in equal pay proceedings. If the jobs are found to be of equal value, up to two years' back-pay can be awarded - with no limit.
An employer must show there is a genuine reason to justify unequal pay.
Does waitress have a right to stay?
Q: One of my waitresses is a Japanese national who has recently separated from her British husband. Can I continue to employ her or will she have to leave the UK?
A: This will depend on her present immigration status. If she has only 12 months' leave to remain as the spouse of a British national (this is called the 12-months probationary period) then it will be difficult extend her leave, since the Home Office will expect her application to be accompanied by a letter of support from her husband. You could try to obtain a work permit for her.
If, however, she has indefinite leave to remain in the UK she is entitled to remain here regardless of marital status.