On Friday 6th November 2020, Vardags was granted an Order by Consent against a former employee restraining her from disclosing confidential information obtained in the course of her employment including a number of specific documents. While the identity of the specific documents must remain confidential, we can confirm that they contain no client confidential information. After several unsuccessful attempts to obtain her co-operation voluntarily, writing to her repeatedly without response, the firm was forced to apply to the Court for this protection. Sadly, it took until just a few days in advance of the hearing, before this former employee broke her silence and finally offered the reassurances which the firm had been seeking for weeks. She appeared in court, having produced no witness statement in response to our substantive application or in response to our own evidence. Specifically she did not deny having already disclosed confidential information including, in particular an all staff email about our dress code. Our costs and our counsel’s costs, in the amount of approximately £68,000, have been reserved for a future occasion. The former employee’s application to have our costs capped was dismissed.
The context of this is that the former employee had been dismissed at the beginning of 2020 for poor performance. She subsequently threatened to take us to the employment tribunal alleging disability discrimination. We believe these allegations have no merit and we robustly denied them. She then proceeded to issue a claim to the employment tribunal.
After we declined to make a proposal to settle her claim, we believe that she leaked our confidential information to third parties. There is clear evidence that upon the day that she was given notice, she forwarded certain confidential information to her private email account in violation of her employment contract and our IT policy. And there is clear evidence that some of this confidential information was shared with a third party. She has not denied responsibility.
A third party connected to our former employee’s solicitor has now approached us threatening to issue a statement about our firm and about the court proceedings which is riddled with untruths and is highly defamatory.
We can only conclude that the purpose of this threat is to put pressure on us to let our former employee off the hook on the costs in relation to her leak of the confidential information, and to compensate her in relation to her spurious employment claim.
Our former employee’s solicitor is an activist for United Voices of the World. In May this year a direct email touting for business purporting to be from a sub-group of United Voices of the World approached the majority of the members of Vardags. As far as we are aware none of them took the bait. However, their activist was, one way or another, successful in being appointed as our former employee’s solicitor.
We are concerned that United Voices of the World is keen to have a cause celebre, and has targeted a law firm with a high public profile to do so. Their website says:
“As UVW has gone from strength to strength we have learnt how to identify a boss’s Achilles heel and to hit them where it hurts!
Our researcher training will equip you with the skills and knowledge to pinpoint an employer’s weaknesses, identify how power operates internally and externally within a company, and how to use research as a tool in assisting workers to leverage their power against the bosses!”
Of course, it is open to us to lie down under the pressure, to write a cheque, to roll over. But we’re not willing to submit to what we consider is a meritless exercise in “leveraging their power against the bosses”. So we stand firm. We will not be at the mercy of spurious and false claims and vindictive breaches of our confidentiality, to pay people off when we know we have done nothing wrong. At some point, one has to take a stand. This is where we take ours.
Published 10 November at 10.04pm
We have now received an extensively redrafted press release from the third party mentioned above. While it still contains a number of factual inaccuracies it does at least remove many of the defamatory statements of the previous draft. Stand firm.
STOP PRESS added 12 November at 7:45am
If you would like to know more about the issues covered in this article, Vardags offers a free consultation to qualifying individuals.
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