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Picture by Getty Images taken from BBC News

In December 2018 the BBC News reported on the latest case on employment status.  The claimant is Jess Varnish; a European gold medallist in team sprint cycling.

The BBC report says:-

“Jess Varnish’s case against British Cycling and UK Sport is to be heard at Manchester Employment Tribunal next week, her legal representative says.

The 28-year-old sprinter was dropped from British Cycling’s elite programme in 2016 and claims unfair dismissal.  The tribunal will consider if, as an athlete in receipt of UK Sport funding, she was self-employed or an employee.

Should it be ruled that Varnish was an employee, the parties would reconvene for a tribunal in 2019.  Simon Fenton, representing Varnish, said her case is “she was an employee (or worker), with the right not to be discriminated against”.

He added: “This case comes in a line of decisions from the cases of Uber, Addison Lee and Pimlico Plumbers which show how tribunals are looking at what actually happened in practice rather than simply accepting what is said in the contractual documentation. And they are deciding that the individuals are workers.”

Varnish was omitted following the 2016 Track Cycling World Championships in London, after the two-woman, two-rider team sprint squad she was part of failed to qualify for the Rio Olympics.  She alleged sex discrimination against Shane Sutton, then the technical director of British Cycling, who was found to have used sexist language towards her. Sutton resigned but was later cleared of eight of nine allegations.

A UK Sport spokesperson told BBC Sport the organisation had been “advised that we are unable to comment while these legal proceedings are taking place“.  British Cycling said it had no comment to make before the hearing.”

I will watch this case and how it progresses, and let you know of interesting developments.

If you have any questions or concerns about discrimination at work, please give us a call today.


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