Me v University of Stirling

Happy Christmas to all my readers. And thank you to those of you who find my blog so interesting that you copy some of my posts and send them to others, regardless of any copyright laws you may be infringing! :)

Weather permitting, St Johnstone travel to Celtic Park on Boxing day. The bookies estimate there's a probability of roughly seven per cent that they'll win. Hardly fair, is it?

Maybe they should suggest to the Premier League that they bend the rules in their favour to give them a fighting chance. How about Derek McInnes, the Saints' manager being allowed to select the Celtic team, and how about making Celtic play with just seven players, and any goals Celtic score in the first half don't count towards the final score. That should just about do it, but just to make sure, allow St Johnstone to make eleven substitutions.

I think the Premier League would give their suggestions short shrift, and rightly so.

Stirling University see themselves as having little hope in successfully defending my claim at the Employment Tribunal. So they've made some suggestions to the Tribunal that, if accepted, would give them a bit more of a chance. Of course, they're not suggesting that it's for that reason, but for honourable reasons, like saving time in a case they say I have little hope of winning, and even if I did win, it would be of little value to me.

When you make a claim to a Tribunal, the employer has to respond stating the grounds on which they resist the claim. The Uni put all their effort into trying to convince the Tribunal that my claim should just be dismissed, by saying it's unreasonable and misconceived. They said that the grievance and disciplinary procedures were handled fairly and appropriately, and that my complaints were all investigated and rejected. There was no sex discrimination, they said, apart from the sex discrimination they allege I displayed. They said that I was the major contributor in the breakdown of my working relationship with Kathy McCabe and two other colleagues. They also said that they didn't accept that I made a protected disclosure, and that, even if I did, I didn't receive any detrimental treatment. They failed to convince the Tribunal to dismiss my claim, and a hearing was scheduled to take place over January, February and March 2011.

I'm allowed to ask the Uni for written answers to questions. I asked them for the reasons why they don't accept that I made a protected disclosure. They refused to answer, saying it's irrelevant. I asked them for the facts that Eileen Schofield relied upon when deciding to reject the allegations in my grievance and to uphold Kathy's grievance. They refused to answer, saying that it's irrelevant. I asked them if they now accept that I wasn't given an opportunity to present my case at my grievance hearing. They refused to answer, saying it's irrelevant. If these issues are irrelevant, then they shouldn't have included them in their grounds of resistance! However, they are very relevant, and if they are as concerned about time as they say they are, the sooner they answer my questions, the better.

Both sides are allowed to call witnesses. The Uni has decided not to call their star witness, Kathy, even though she was allegedly able to point to evidence that persuaded Eileen Schofield that she hadn't bullied me or discriminated against me on the basis of my gender, and that I had in fact bullied Kathy. The reason they are not calling her as a witness is because she couldn't possibly have done that. This means that I have to call Kathy as a witness for cross examination in order to see that evidence she pointed to. The Uni has suggested to the Tribunal that I shouldn't be allowed to cross examine her, because they say I am "an aggrieved employee with a difference of view". That would surely describe every claimant at a Tribunal.

They are not calling the other four women, (Eileen, Selina, Jackie and Una) on whose evidence they allegedy based their decision to dismiss me. So I've called them as witnesses. I suspect the Uni realises that those women won't be able to convince the Tribunal that I should have been dismissed. I also suspect there are other, even more important reasons why the Uni will not want them to be cross examined.

They are not calling Eileen Schofield, despite her being convinced that I was the cause of the breakdown in my working relationship with Kathy. I need to call her as a witness to hear how she arrived at that decision.

They are not calling Kevin Clarke who said he couldn't see any flaws in the
grievance procedure. I'm calling him as a witness too, because I want him to explain to the Tribunal how the flaws I described to him aren't flaws.

They are not calling the two managers (Graham and Gail) who carried out the disciplinary investigation, but I need to find out from them why their investigation was so flawed. Who knows, they might tell me the truth, as they are required under oath!

The Uni is asking the Tribunal to restrict me, or my representative, to cross examining only those who made the decisions, claiming that they are the only ones with relevant evidence. They cannot possibly think that's true, especially when they are being advised by a lawyer.

They don't stop at that though. There are other advantages they want too. Normally, in a case like mine where there are elements of discrimination and victimisation as a result of protected disclosures, it is the employee who presents their case first, followed by the employer. The reverse is true when it's only unfair dismissal. I think that makes sense because the party that has to refer to the earliest incidents should go first. The Uni has decided that it would be best for them if they present their case first.

They also wish to treat my claim as if it was just one of unfair dismissal. That's their comfort zone. They want to force the Tribunal to decide if I was dismissed for a fair reason before they've heard from me about any victimisation and discrimination. They probably still wouldn't win, but their chances would be significantly greater, especially if, as they suggest, the Tribunal doesn't get to hear the very dodgy evidence from those five women and others, and they don't get to hear about the flawed grievance procedure or any of the mistreatment I had been subjected to for several years.

They were offered an opportunity to have the matter of the protected disclosures decided first. I'd imagine that wouldn't take very long because there is a clear definition of what qualifies as a protected disclosure, and the Uni is struggling to find a reason to argue my protected disclosures don't qualify. However, they rejected that offer, and I suspect that's because the natural thing to decide after that would be whether or not I suffered detriment (from which I was protected) as a result of the grievance procedure, and they wish to avoid that subject like the plague. The Tribunal would also have the protected disclosures at the forefront of their minds while listening to evidence on my dismissal.

So far, they haven't insisted that I be blindfolded and have my hands tied behind my back; but it's still early days...

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