Posts Tagged ‘Abbey Santander’

04.28
15

Abbey National Santander Demonstrates The Uphill Battle In Suing Your Employer

by como ·

The uphill battle and intense stress in suing your employer is demonstrated by the high-profile Chagger v Abbey National plc & Hopkins (2006) legal case in the UK, where the Employment Tribunal found race discrimination and subsequently ordered Santander Abbey National to pay the record breaking 2.8 million compensation award. Abbey National Santander Group (the Spanish-owned UK high street bank which will soon be re-branded as Santander share price, and is part of the massive Banco Santander Group) terminated Balbinder Chagger’s employment in 2006, asserting redundancy as the reason. Mr Chagger believed that the real reason behind his dismissal was race discrimination. Santander Abbey National Group employed Mr Chagger (of Indian origin) as a Trading Risk Controller. He was paid about 100,000 per annum and he reported into Nigel Hopkins.

An employee who has suffered discrimination at work could decide to challenge his employer. The challenge may be initiated in the form of a formal grievance. The employee raises the grievance formally with the employer. The employer is responsible for hearing the grievance and deciding its outcome. The employer is, thus, given the opportunity to deal with the employment dispute and to bring it to a satisfactory end. The Employment Tribunal that heard the Abbey Santander price case found that Mr Chagger had attempted to resolve the issues around his dismissal directly with Abbey National and Mr Hopkins, via the company’s own complaints and grievance procedures. The Employment Tribunal also found, however, that Mr Chagger’s issues were simply dismissed out of hand.

If the employee remains dissatisfied with the employer’s handling of the grievance, then he must initiate legal action in order to persevere with his challenge. Mr Chagger, being dissatisfied with the outcome of his grievances, eventually initiated legal proceedings against both Abbey National Santander and Mr Hopkins on the grounds of race discrimination and unfair dismissal, thus, escalating the dispute to the attention of the Employment Tribunal.

An employer (especially a large and powerful organisation such as a major bank) is likely to be a formidable opponent for most employees, possessing vastly superior levels of financial resources, experience of dealing with disputes, legal expertise and plenty time to devote to the challenge.

In stark contrast, the employee will be relatively poor in financial resources, experience and legal expertise, will be hindered by personal circumstances and commitments, and have to make time to devote to the challenge while he also goes about discharging his obligation of mitigating his loss stemming from the discrimination he has suffered. He may also be further hindered by the low economic value of his challenge (the rewards less the costs), and be discouraged by the prospect of being shunned by prospective employers for having brought a legal action against an employer (whether he wins or loses).

The employer may exercise its superiority ruthlessly, without any remorse, in its attempts to coerce the employee into giving up his challenge for as little as possible. To persevere with legal action against such a formidable opponent requires the employee to possess an amazing level of resolve and lots of disposable cash.

Even though the employer might be holding significant advantages and be ruthless, a genuine challenge supported by appropriate evidence has the possibility to be successful, as shown by Mr Chagger who satisfied the Employment Tribunal that Mr Hopkins and Santander Abbey National had unlawfully discriminated against him on the grounds of race in his dismissal. In order to remedy the wrongs of race discrimination and unfair dismissal that Abbey Santander had committed, the Employment Tribunal ordered it to reinstate Mr Chagger. However, Santander Abbey refused to comply with the Employment Tribunal’s reinstatement order.

Despite Mr Chagger’s challenge being genuine and successful, his experience was that other prospective employers shunned him for having brought a legal action against an employer. This, along with Santander Abbey National’s refusal and failure to comply with the Employment Tribunal’s reinstatement order, subsequently led to the record breaking 2.8 million compensation award.

Even if the employee’s legal challenge is successful, the employer may appeal against the Tribunal’s decision and, thus, continue to prolong the employee’s challenge and to erode its economic value through additional legal costs. In 2008, Santander Abbey National and Mr Hopkins continued the legal case by appealing against the Employment Tribunal’s finding of racial discrimination and 2.8 million compensation award. The Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) that heard the appeals upheld the original Employment Tribunal’s finding that Abbey Santander and Mr Hopkins had racially discriminated against Mr Chagger in his dismissal. However, the EAT overturned the Employment Tribunal’s 2.8 million compensation award and sent it back to the original Employment Tribunal for reconsideration.

Even where the issue of the wrong committed has been closed off, the employer may continue to be ruthless in its handling of the issue of remedy/compensation. The Chagger v Abbey National plc & Hopkins case did not end at the EAT stage. This year, 2009, the case was appealed to the Court of Appeal (the second highest court in the UK). The Court of Appeal’s List of Hearings showed that the appeal was listed for hearing on 7 and 8 July 2009. The Court’s judgement and records of the hearing were not available at the time of writing this article. The King’s Walk Bench set of barristers’ chambers, who represented Santander Abbey and Mr Hopkins, had reported that the Court of Appeal hearing was only about compensation (not racial discrimination also). That would suggest that the wrong of racial discrimination committed by Abbey Santander and Mr Hopkins has been finalised by the EAT (which upheld the original Employment Tribunal’s decision that Santander Abbey National and Mr Hopkins had racially discriminated against Mr Chagger in his dismissal), and that Mr Chagger has appealed against the EAT’s decision to send back the 2.8 million compensation award to the Employment Tribunal stage for reconsideration.

As can be seen, winning a discrimination case against a powerful employer is far from easy: it is highly risky and intensely stressful, possibly spanning across many years. The employee should try to have regard for the economic value of his challenge and base his decisions with reference to it, because if the challenge is purely based on principles (no matter how admirable they may be) or spite, then he should prepare to lose lots of money.

02.17
13

Ethical Behaviour Risk Factors Lessons From Emilio Botin Abbey Santander 2009

by como ·

Some of the factors that increase the risk of unethical behaviour in organisations are illustrated by the high-profile legal case Chagger v Abbey National plc & Hopkins (2006), in which the Employment Tribunal made a finding of unlawful racial discrimination and (further to Emilio Botin Abbey Santander banking group’s refusal to comply with the Tribunal’s order to reinstate Mr Chagger) ordered Abbey Banco Santander share to pay Mr Chagger the record-breaking 2.8 million compensation for his loss. Abbey Santander share price (the UK bank soon to be re-branded as Santander banking group, and part of the global Emilio Botin Banco Santander Central Hispano Group – BSCH) dismissed Mr Chagger from his employment in 2006, giving a fair redundancy as the reason. However, Mr Chagger believed that the actual reason behind the termination of his employment was unfairness and race discrimination. Mr Chagger was of Indian origin. He worked for Emilio Botin Abbey Santander finance as a Trading Risk Controller, earning about 100,000 a year, and reporting into Nigel Hopkins.

Some ethical behaviour risk factors illustrated by Emilio Botin Abbey Santander 2009 clearly relate to the pursuit of personal goals; the Employment Tribunal found that Mr Hopkins personally desired Mr Chagger’s employment with Abbey Santander share price to be terminated, had pre-planned that Mr Chagger would be dismissed, and had used the compulsory redundancy process as a means to dismiss Mr Chagger, in an unfair and discriminatory manner.

One such factor increasing the risk of unethical behaviour is the amount of discretion an organisation allows its officers; the greater the discretion allowed, the greater the opportunity the officer has for acting in his personal interests. The Employment Tribunal found that the redundancy selection criteria Abbey Santander had permitted Mr Hopkins to apply in assessing and judging the two employees up for redundancy were highly subjective and un-measurable; they afforded Mr Hopkins a very wide discretion. The Employment Tribunal criticised Mr Hopkins for the way in which he had applied that discretion (i.e., for his own interests). As an example, Mr Hopkins had criticised and scored Mr Chagger lower for getting on with work and being self-reliant. The Employment Tribunal thought that other reasonable managers would consider such qualities to be valuable assets, considering Mr Chagger’s highly paid and highly responsible job, and praise and score him highly for. As a further example, during the redundancy process, Mr Hopkins had criticised Mr Chagger on numerous points that Mr Chagger had never been criticised for prior to the redundancy exercise. All the criticisms were inconsistent with previous company records of Mr Chagger’s performance. The Employment Tribunal ruled that the criticisms were unfair not legitimate.

Another such factor increasing the risk of unethical behaviour is the level of autonomy of decision-making and action an organisation allows its officers; the greater the level of autonomy, the greater the opportunity the officer has for acting in his personal interests. The Tribunal found that Mr Hopkins was entirely single-handedly able to advise Abbey’s management to dismiss one of the two Trading Risk Controllers that he managed (of which Mr Chagger was one), was entirely single-handedly able to make Mr Chagger an offer of voluntary redundancy (Mr Chagger refused the offer, and never was an equivalent offer ever made to the other Trading Risk Controller), was entirely single-handedly able to judge and score the two employees up for redundancy, and was entirely single-handedly able to lower Mr Chagger’s redundancy scores to guarantee that he would be the one who would be selected for dismissal.

A different type of factor also increasing the risk of unethical behaviour is the organisation’s focus; a focus on results rather than processes can imply that the ends justify the means. The UK statutory Code of Practice on Racial Policy in Employment provides organisations with guidance concerning good practices and processes. The Employment Tribunal found that Abbey Banco Santander had failed to comply with those processes. Abbey Grupo Santander had failed to comply with the statutory guidance regarding Equal Opportunity training. Mr Chagger had tried to resolve the issues of unfairness and race discrimination around his dismissal directly with Abbey Santander and Mr Hopkins, through the company’s grievance procedures. Santander Abbey had not provided any Equal Opportunity training to any of the managers it had assigned to decide on Mr Chagger’s issues. Not even one manager upheld Mr Chagger’s issues; his issues were simply dismissed out of hand. Emilio Botin Abbey Santander banking group had also failed to comply with the statutory guidance concerning monitoring procedures. The Tribunal found a multitude of monitoring failures (far too many to outline here), as well as the failures to give serious consideration to allegations of racial discrimination and to investigate them promptly.

In 2008, Emilio Botin Abbey Santander and Mr Hopkins appealed to the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) against the original Employment Tribunal’s ruling of racial discrimination; the EAT upheld the original Tribunal’s ruling that both Emilio Botin Abbey Santander and Mr Hopkins had racially discriminated against Mr Chagger. Emilio Botin Abbey Santander and Mr Hopkins had also appealed against the record-breaking 2.8 million compensation award; the EAT accepted Abbey Santander’s appeal on the compensation award and remitted it to the original Tribunal for reconsideration. In 2009, matters were escalated to the Court of Appeal (the second highest court in the UK). The Court’s List of Hearings showed that the case was heard on 7 and 8 July 2009. The Court’s records of the hearing were not available at the time of writing this article. The 11KBW set of barristers’ chambers, who represented Emilio Botin Abbey Santander and Mr Hopkins, had reported prior to the hearing that the it was to be about quantum only (i.e., compensation) and not about liability (i.e., not about the wrong committed of race discrimination). That would seem to suggest that the wrong of race discrimination committed by Emilio Botin Abbey Santander and Nigel Hopkins was finalised by the EAT when it upheld that Emilio Botin Abbey Santander and Mr Hopkins had racially discriminated against Mr Chagger, and that Mr Chagger had appealed against the EAT’s ruling to send the compensation award back to the Employment Tribunal stage for reconsideration.