Employees must be reasonable

A recent case illustrates that employees must be reasonable when it comes to settlement offers. Mr Rondeau brought a claim against his former employer, G4S, for discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation. G4S twice offered Rondeau a settlement of £30000. Twice Rondeau refused wit

A recent case illustrates that employees must be reasonable when it comes to settlement offers.

Mr Rondeau brought a claim against his former employer, G4S, for discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation. G4S twice offered Rondeau a settlement of £30000. Twice Rondeau refused without making a counter-offer. When it came to the day and the appeal hearing, Rondeau finally accepted an offer of £30000.

However, the EAT held that Mr Rondeau had acted unreasonably in failing to accept or even put in any counter offer on the two previous occasions. This led to costs being incurred. The EAT said that it was "wholly unrealistic and unreasonable of [Rondeau's] advisers not to have accepted [the offer] earlier". As a result Mr Rondeau was ordered to pay costs of £3,420.

What does this all mean? In simple terms, the case shows the importance of holding proper settlement discussions and the need to carefully consider responses to offers made by the other party. Notes can also be used to show the other side what can happen in settlements are rejected inappropriately. Unreasonable responses can be made, but they may be expensive if the court or tribunal do not agree.
This was first published in April 2011

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