Does an employment tribunal need evidence to support granting an extension of time for a discrimination claim on a ‘just and equitable’ basis?
No, held the EAT in Owen v Network Rail Infrastructure Ltd.
The Claimant, a signaller, brought a number of complaints relating to workplace sex discrimination/harassment covering two periods; up to May 2017 when she went off sick, and from November 2017 to February 2020, about the handling of her grievance. The tribunal accepted the Claimant’s account of events up to May 2017 as discriminatory, but found that the handling of the grievance was not discriminatory, so there was no ‘continuing act’ to bring the pre-May 2017 discriminatory incidents in time.
In considering the complaints pre-May 2017, the tribunal appeared to have concluded that as the Claimant had given no evidence as to why time should be extended, it could not extend time as a matter of law. The EAT considered a number of authorities and held that this was wrong. The lack of evidence from the Claimant about the delay was a relevant factor to consider, but was not necessarily decisive. The EAT remitted the extension of time issue to the same tribunal.
Thanks to Ed McFarlane for preparing this case summary.