A DINNINGTON woman has received an £8,000 out-of-court settlement from a trade union after it failed to pursue an unfair dismissal case within the statutory time limits.
Sandra Brooks wanted Unite to take on her former employer the Co-operative Bank claiming she was unfairly dismissed and discriminated against on grounds of her age.
Mrs Brooks had worked for the company for 22 years at its West Street branch in Sheffield city centre as a customer relationship adviser.
The 59-year-old approached Unite to represent her.
She had been a member of the union for 15 years and estimates she paid more than £1,500 in dues and believed that in doing so, Unite would be sufficiently able to represent her during a claim.
But she discovered Unite had missed the time limit for starting proceedings and she had lost any legal entitlement to pursue her claim.
Mrs Brooks spoke to solicitors at Wake Smith LLP and decided to pursue a professional negligence claim against Unite.
But shortly before the case went to trial she accepted a settlement of thousands of pounds.
She is now hoping her story helps to raise awareness to other members of Unite and also to other members of unions who may be unaware of the time limitations of their claim.
Mrs Brooks said: “As a member of the union, I believed that Unite would use reasonable degree of care and skill in pursuing my case.
“But I believe that advisers at Unite were negligent in their responsibilities to me as a paying member – they breached their duty of care by failing to advise me of the relevant time limits for bringing my claim for constructive dismissal and age discrimination.
“Facing the realities of a legal battle because of negligence on their part, after an already stressful time at work, was just too much to bear.”
Mrs Brooks has now found a new job at Travelex bureau de change in Crystal Peaks.
A spokeswoman for Unite said: “Unite has systems in place to ensure the strict time limits of Tribunals are adhered to but unfortunately human error can occur.
“Unite very much regrets that on this occasion human error did result in the member losing the opportunity to claim against her employer.
“Unite was happy to discuss settlement of this matter.”