Down Arrow

Covert recordings lead to one of the largest awards ever at Employment Tribunal of £432,000.00

16 October 2020

In the case of Tan v Copthorne Hotels, the claimant Mr Chee Hwee Tan brought claims of unfair dismissal, automatically unfair dismissal, age discrimination, race discrimination, discrimination because of sexual orientation, victimisation, harassment, whistleblowing detriment and unlawful deductions from wages.

The Claimant was a senior vice president of a hotel chain who was placed at risk of redundancy. He began covertly recording hundreds of hours of meetings and conversations with his colleagues, both peers and those senior to him as well as those junior to him such as the chairman’s driver.

When it came to the disclosure stage during the proceedings, some 3000 pages of documents were provided to the tribunal. Despite having been required to pay a deposit for some of the claims and having been given an opportunity to withdraw, the Claimant persisted.

The claimant’s evidence was that he made recordings when he “felt threatened”. It was hard to see how the claimant could have felt threatened by the chairman’s driver or Dr Perecherla who was not even an employee of the company and has his own professional regulation. The Tribunal found this to be an unacceptable breach of trust.

The Tribunal held that ‘had we not found the dismissal to be fair, we would have found this conduct to have completed eroded any trust and confidence between the parties and this would have led to his dismissal in any event, had the respondent known about it.’

The Employment Tribunal went on to make an award of costs against the Claimant of £432,000, one of the largest awards ever by an employment tribunal.

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