National Minimum Wage is supposed to be a right for employees. As the name suggests, it is the basic minimum pay and has been put in place to protect rights of employees. What I have found is that exerting this right in our country can be a heavy burden and an expensive liability. It has been, in my life anyway.
The relationship between an employer and employee is an unbalanced one. The employers hold a lot of power over employees. They also get given a lot of information about the employees. Just think of the CV's, education related information, Police checks, passports, bank details, Insurance number, P45's and the rest. They get to prepare the employment contract. They also have responsibilities, such as preparing the payslips, following the relevant law, keeping a safe environment etc. Very basic stuff, right? The employee works according to the contract and the employer behaves according to the law of the country. Sounds straight forward enough. But what happens when the employer doesn't follow the basic law, ie doesn't pay minimum wage by finding some ingenious way to deduct wages over months while promising to correct it later? Well, an employer who can make promises many months and still doesn't pay is not likely to keep a promise, so you can either forget about your one thousand pounds or take them to an employment tribunal.
Well, it appears giving up your money to some rich scheming employer may be the cheaper option. You can also protect your prospects and dignity and a few years of full time litigation. Well, I am not sure about keeping your prospects and dignity because even if you don't take them to tribunal they can still harm you without you ever finding out. For example if one employer dupes all the others by posing as a prospective employer to collect any information on a former employee even if the employee found it out the employers who gave the information don't take action against the employer who duped them in the first place. Because trying to do something about it means they accept wrongdoing as well. So they pretend nothing has happened and leave the employee to deal with the consequences. Even when you get all the decisions from the Information Commissioner's Office in your favour, they try to downplay their responsibility and wait to see if you might take them to court as suggested by the ICO.
In terms of the money: my loss of minimum wage was about one thousand pounds but I spent many more thousands because the employer who was being represented started making costs threats with their first ever email. It seems that costs threats starting with their first email and absurd allegations of the claim being 'misconceived and/or vexatious' is the norm. Even with a simple pay claim this is what the first employer I took to the Tribunal did. Their defence was full of untruths and also had nothing much to do with my claim. Apparently that's also the norm. Solicitors obviously do this for a job and unless you are as unlucky as me, it's the only claim most claimants ever deal with. Obviously most claimants are not lawyers and have no idea about the employment law or how the Tribunals work. My guess is that legal representatives are acutely aware of how difficult it is for claimants and use the paralysing affects of the process to torture claimants into withdrawing their claim. The Melanie Mareuge-Lejeune/Stephen Derwent Griffiths' first legal rep Terri Schofield knew this very well. Terri of DWF, who was paid £40 000 pounds by the insurance company in my minimum wage case, fully expected me to be terrified the first time she mentioned their 'barrister". I was a bit puzzled because I have met many barristers in the past when I worked as an interpreter and they were some of the kindest and most compassionate people I have ever met. Terri was also shocking because I had also met dozens of case workers/solicitors and I couldn't remember one that I could fault. At the time I thought she was an exception and I didn't understand why she was waiting the word "barrister" to have a negative impact on me. Well, apparently Employment law professionals are seen to be as a completely different kettle of fish. Apparently basic courtesy and law abiding behaviour from an employer's representative is not to be expected as a norm. I wish I knew this before so I wouldn't have spent more money to deal with their awful behaviour. It was an expensive lesson to learn.
Last year I helped someone fill in a form that's called "single justice procedure notice". This person had mild physical and mental disabilities. He had been caught after getting on a bus from the back door as this set of doors were closer to him. He was going to a GP appointment. He said an inspector approached him as soon as he got on the bus and asked for his proof of payment which he obviously didn't have. He explained why he had got on the bus from the back set of doors and wanted to pay but the inspector wouldn't accept it. Instead he was processed as having committed a crime and the form he brought to us was about this. He had no choice but to accept he had committed a crime and pay a fine of £80. If he didn't, he would still be found guilty and pay £1000 fine. Whether he pled guilty on paper or was found guilty at the Magistrate's court, it was going to be registered on his Police record. Yes, they take non payment of that £1.50 bus fare that seriously, penalise citizens by a fine and a criminal record and there is no defence against it at all. Yet, when an employer avoids paying minimum wage by deception and preparing documents behind your back and by defending it with more lies and committing illegal acts while defending this claim, they suffer no consequence. In fact minimum wage is a basic right of all employees and when the claim comes to Tribunal it is treated as the employer's claim on the employee's rights. So those payments from an insurance company is in fact paid for the solicitors to deduct my wages. And they did deduct most of my wages as accommodation ofset despite the contract stating the accommodation was free. This was the success of DWF. Of course it's illegal and morally wrong but with no representation on my part and all the complaints the employer filed against everyone else involved by using sensitive matters, this was the result. I did raise those issues many times but who cares when it's a small claim against an employer who is represented by aggressive and ready to please DWF.
Despite all the difficulties on my part DWF still relied on lies about the law and lies about the details of the case to achieve this result. They lied about the minimum wage legislation and also said their client has a right to get references about me for the purposes of this case. These are lies about the law everyone can find out but they also lied about facts incessantly to the Tribunal and to myself. They stopped representing Melanie Mareuge-Lejeune/Stephen Derwent Griffiths after the liability judgment for a few months in which their clients wrote dozens and dozens pages of emails while making numerous reconsideration applications. They said some very strange things in that period and when DWF got involved with the case again before the costs hearing, they copied and pasted bizarre parts of those emails and signed their name under it. The content of the emails are so extreme you would think any law person would refrain from being associated with it. DWF not only signed it, they lied further by saying their clients were paying the legal costs. They lied about this matter until the minute we entered the court room in which they admitted the costs had been paid by an insurance but couldn't provide any "receipted invoices'' for their application. They came to the hearing demanding me to pay nearly £40 000 pounds because their clients had felt 'offended'. They were upset because there is a £20 000 limit in terms of costs awards. Yes, some people's alleged right to feel offended is so important that they feel it overrides their responsibilities as employers, an employee's basic legal rights and justifies their illegal conduct over an extended period and towards many people.
Melanie Mareuge-Lejeune/Stephen Derwent Griffiths allege that DWF did them wrong and that they received compensation. They wanted to take them to court but seems they settled after complaints. I, on the other hand, spent two and half years dealing with these employers' behaviour resulting from the same proceedings, spent thousands of pounds, had to go back to all of my employers to find out what had happened, complained to Information Commissioner's Office numerous times, get involved in other proceedings as a result of their behaviour, put my life on hold and suffered many more consequences I can't even list here. All this because these people had a good insurance to be used by some solicitors, they enjoyed inflicting distress and loss by using legal professionals and because they thought they should "win" regardless of the merits of the claim. It is ridiculous that I am actually supposed to have won this case despite all the loss these people successfully inflicted on me. Now that their illegal conduct was mentioned in the judgments they are going deeper into a smear campaign and revealing more of their horrendous actions behind my back in an effort to justify what they have already done. They are forcing the need to make explanations that they don't deserve at all and are enlisting others who have also breached laws to help them.
I have a new claim against them because of what they have done during the minimum wage claim and what they have divulged. The claim number is 2200219/2020. I am posting this detail here in case they approach the reader of this page. If such a thing happens regardless of how convincing they may come across, they do not have a legitimate reason to do so. Please contact me.
And lastly, do you notice the stark difference between how a non payment of a bus fare by a disabled person is treated by our justice system compared to non payment of minimum wage by wealthy employers? That difference despite the fact they used deception to achieve an underpayment of wages below minimum wage. No wonder some employers feel it's their right to inflict losses on you and try to justify illegal acts because they feel they have a right to feel offended by a claim brought against them in a court of law.