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Lord Sugar successful in defending claim from former employee

22nd April, 2013

Lord Sugar has successfully defended a claim for constructive unfair dismissal from former employee, Stella English, in the East London Employment Tribunal. Constructive unfair dismissal occurs where an employer has committed a repudiatory breach of a contract of employment (i.e. a fundamental breach), the employee has accepted the breach and the employee has resigned in response to the breach within a reasonable time of the breach occurring. Ms English, who won ‘The Apprentice’ in 2010, left her £100,000-a-year job with Lord Sugar’s company claiming that she was treated like an “overpaid lackey.”

After winning the show Ms English joined Lord Sugar’s IT division, Viglen, but resigned in May 2011 complaining her job was just a “PR construct” and a “sham.” Ms English claimed she then felt pressured to take up a role at Lord Sugar’s internet set-top company You View. Ms English told the Tribunal that during an impromptu meeting in September 2011 Lord Sugar had told her that her contract would not be renewed and that he “did not give a ****.” Lord Sugar claimed that he was in fact referring to the way this might be portrayed in the media. Judge John Warren held that Lord Sugar had actually gone out of his way to ensure that Ms English was given a role at You View which she had agreed to, enjoyed doing, and from which she could learn new skills.

The Employment Tribunal ruled that Ms English’s case should “never have been brought.” The Tribunal said that she had the wrong idea about how glamorous the job would be and had resigned from the position rather than been unfairly constructively dismissed. Lord Sugar, speaking after the hearing, said that the case brought by Ms English had been a “charade.” He went on to say “what has happened here is representative of a new wave of claim culture where some employees file spurious actions regardless of whose reputation it may smear in the process.” Lord Sugar later tweeted “a victory for the law against the claim culture.”

For further information or advice in relation to dealing with claims of unfair constructive dismissal, please contact Claire Brook on 01244 405575 or send an email to [email protected].

To book on to our Mock Employment Tribunal or one of our Employment Law Update seminars, please click here

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