Workers Rights

Workers Rights

Members of Doughty Street’s employment team have been representing workers of all kinds since chambers was established. We have been involved in cases from Employment Tribunals to the Supreme Court advancing the rights of individual workers and those of trade unions. Our cases cover a wide range of issues from unfair dismissal and contractual rights to discrimination at work and protection from detriment on grounds of trade union activity. We use our specialist skills and knowledge of human rights issues and public law principles creatively to enhance the protection afforded to workers under UK domestic law.

An important development in this regard is the Supreme Court’s decision in R (G) v X School Governors. In that case the Claimant, a teaching assistant, argued that his rights under Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights (the right to a fair trial) had been breached by his employer when it denied him legal representation at an internal disciplinary hearing which resulted in his dismissal. His legal team, which included a member of chambers, argued that, because a decision to dismiss him and refer him to the Independent Safeguarding Authority (‘ISA’) could lead to his inclusion on a list that would bar him from any further employment in schools or from working with children, legal representation at this important disciplinary hearing should have been allowed. Although it was ultimately found that the reasons for the Claimant’s dismissal would not have a significant influence on the subsequent barring procedures before the ISA, the Supreme Court importantly accepted that if they had, Article 6 would have required that the Claimant be legally represented at his employer’s internal disciplinary hearing. This decision has been applied by the lower courts in many cases since.

In addition to representing clients in court, members of the team are actively involved in advisory work with partner organisations including national trade unions, NGOs and law centres. We also undertake training for voluntary organisations and for elected representatives and paid officials of trade unions. We believe that this aspect of our work makes a significant positive contribution to the ongoing fight to protect workers’ rights by helping those who are the first port of call when things go wrong to develop the skills and expertise to resolve workplace problems.

For more information about our work in this area please see our employment team page.