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Serial Litigant Loses Agency Appeal

Serial Litigant Loses Agency Appeal

Employment Appeal Tribunal: Job applications must be genuine

A litigant who brought age discrimination claims against 20 recruitment agencies has lost an appeal to the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) on the grounds that she had no genuine interest in the vacancies for which she had applied.

The EAT said the judgment could serve as an authority that a job application must be genuine before a statutory disadvantage can be suffered.

The tribunal heard that 51-year-old Margaret Keane was an experienced accountant whose career included nine years in a senior management role. In mid-2007 she applied for 20 or more positions advertised for recently qualified accountants, for which she was over-qualified. After not receiving any job interviews, she began age discrimination proceedings against the recruitment agencies.

Some agencies settled immediately, but 11 chose to appear before the employment tribunal, of which six settled during the proceedings. The tribunal dismissed Keanes claims against the remaining five agencies on the basis that she had no interest in the vacancies, but simply wanted to claim compensation. It awarded costs against her.

Keane appealed, but the Employment Appeal Tribunal upheld the tribunals ruling. Mr Justice Underhill said his judgment could serve as an authority that an application must be genuine. He said: While [it] may be literally correct that there is no direct authority under the Regulations for the proposition that an application must be genuine before a statutory disadvantage can be suffered, we think that that proposition is self-evidently correct, and if there was no previous authority, there is now.
Keane was ordered to pay the respondent agencies costs, to be assessed in the county court. They are expected to be up to 10,000 for each agency.
Gordon Turner, a partner at London firm Partners Employment Lawyers, said the decision was common sense.

Keanes legal representative did not provide a comment.

* On this subject John Berry appears to have gone very quiet unless you know better. If you suspect your agency has been targeted by a serial litigant let me know.

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