“The Apprentice” winner Stella English has lost her Employment Tribunal claim for constructive dismissal against the businessman Lord Alan Sugar.
The Employment Tribunal released the eagerly-anticipated judgment last Friday, putting an end to the speculation on a case which has generated a media frenzy over the past months.
Ms Stella English, who won the BBC flagship show “The Apprentice” in 2010, submitted a claim for constructive unfair dismissal to the Employment Tribunal in 2012 after she alleged that Lord Sugar had said that he was not renewing her contract, that he didn’t “give a shit”, and that she was treated like “an overpaid lackey”. She claimed that she was misled as to what her job would entail and that she had expected a great deal more time face-to-face with Lord Sugar. She alleged that it was this treatment that had led to a fundamental breach of her contract of employment, entitling her to resign and claim unfair dismissal.
The Employment Tribunal published its decision to reject Ms English’s claim for constructive dismissal on 12 April 2013 (a copy of the judgment can be accessed here). It dismissed her claim for constructive dismissal, stating that a great deal of the conduct that she alleged happened (and which would have formed the basis for the claim) never occurred in the manner that she stated and that, even if it had occurred, that Lord Sugar’s actions would not have amounted to a fundamental breach of her contract of employment anyway.
The Employment Tribunal went on to comment that “this was a claim that should never have been brought” and that the Tribunal considered that Ms English was “ill advised to bring a claim and/or continue it” by her solicitors – these are pretty strong words from a Tribunal.
Ms English or her legal team appear not to have commented after the judgment. However, Lord Sugar released a statement that he was “pleased that the tribunal has returned this verdict and feel vindicated in the judgment that myself, my companies, the BBC, the TV production company and my staff acted properly throughout Ms English’s employment. There was never a case for us to answer but her need for money and fame meant that the whole system was subjected to this charade. I have been cleared of a derisory attempt to smear my name and extract money from me. The allegations were without substance, and I believe this case was brought with one intention in mind – the presumption that I would not attend the tribunal, that I would not testify and that I would settle out of court, sending Ms English on her way with a tidy settlement.”
Chris Hadrill, employment solicitor at law firm Redmans, commented on the case that “as the Employment Tribunal stated, this is a case that probably should never have been brought. Employers are under no obligation to offer their employees work and her losses seem to have been limited by the fact that she was immediately offered another job by Lord Sugar anyway. All in all, a storm in a very small teacup”.