Rogers & Norton News

Claim against colleague after settlement

Friday, September 20, 2013

Hurst v Kelly

Employers quite rightly expect settlement agreements to draw a line under employment issues between them and their departing employees. But do they put an end to claims against colleagues too? Not necessarily, as the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) pointed out in Hurst v Kelly.

The employee signed a compromise agreement preventing her from bringing any claims against her employer arising out of her employment or its termination. She subsequently brought a sexual harassment claim against her line manager. The employment tribunal held that it wasn’t able to hear the claim because the former employer hadn’t been named as a party.

But the EAT held that that didn’t matter. Where victimisation in the course of employment is alleged, a claim can be brought against a former colleague without having to include the employer in the proceedings.

The case highlights that that wording of any settlement agreement really does set the boundaries and employers need to negotiate the best possible terms – perhaps protecting remaining staff from future claims, perhaps not.