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  • Writer's pictureSundeep Bhatia

What action can Mark Weber take next against the Red Bull team?Speculation and conjecture by Employm

So Mark you need some suggestions ,as to how you might proceed , as the result of Sebastien overtaking you to win Sunday’s Malaysian GP.I hope you find this more useful then your planned surfing break. However I would need your contract of employment and formal instructions in order to give more detailed legal advice which you could rely upon. My suggestions are on the basis that Red Bull Racing is a registered company in the United Kingdom and that you are as employee of Red Bull racing.If that is the case then read on.If not then get on that surfboard and ride the highest wave! You feel aggrieved (and rightly so,in this armchair pundit’s opinion.). You were Mr Goody Two shoes.When Christian said maintain station you obeyed team orders and you turned the engine volume right down.The Grand Prix was in the bag and you already had your victory speech in your mind. Unfortuanately Sebastien ,had other ideas in his mind ,and,in defiance of team orders,he overtook you . Once the manoeuvre was complete you were told to hold station and ,as a result,Sebastien won the race. The solution is simple.File a formal grievance against the team.Tell them how badly you feel about what happened.Tell them why and if you feel that the team favoured Sebastien. Red Bull should have a written grievance procedure.If you have never had sight of it then ask them for a copy.It should mirror the ACAS grievance procedure. Your grievance should be in writing and should outline why you feel aggrieved . Red Bull should then convene a disciplinary hearing. You have a right to be accompanied at that meeting by either a fellow employee or a trade Union official. At that hearing you should be given an opportunity to explain why you feel aggrieved. If you name a senior official at Red Bull for being responsible for what occurred, then that person should not be responsible for chairing that grievance meeting or for the investigation of your grievance. If, after that meeting, your grievance is not upheld or if you are not happy with the outcome of the grievance, then you should ask for an appeal hearing. A different official at Red Bull should ,if at all possible,be responsible for chairing and investigating that appeal hearing . If after that appeal hearing you are still not happy then you would have two alternatives. One of them would would be to resign on the basis that you had been constructively dismissed. In other words you would argue that,due to the actions of the Red Bull team, you had effectively already been pushed out of the team. The other would be to stay on and continue regardless. If you did that then you would lose the right to argue your case before an Employment tribunal. However, as far as you are concerned, there are two pitfalls to arguing constructive dismissal and to resigning. Firstly one incidence of overtaking by a fellow driver would probably not be held by a Tribunal to amount to constructive dismissal. Secondly the maximum amount a tribunal can currently award for Unfair dismissal is around £80,000. That, in a profession such as yours, would probably be seen as being a mere pittance. It might be worth arguing age discrimination since Sebastian is somewhat younger than you are. You would ,in order to successfully argue age discrimination ,need to show that,on the grounds of your age, you had suffered a detriment on the grounds of a protected characteristic ,namely your age. Alternatively, to establish indirect discrimination, you would have to show that Red Bull had adopted a criterion or practice which indirectly discriminated against you on account of your age. Discrimination is, however, very difficult to prove and a tribunal would in all likelihood, require you to put forward your case as a preliminary issue in order that it can decide whether there is any merit in such a claim for discrimination.

If the tribunal feels that such a claim for age discrimination is weak then it may ask you to pay a sum into court of between £500-£1000 if you wish to proceed on the grounds of discrimination. That is an indication that the tribunal is likely to make an order for costs against you if you continue and are unsuccessful in your claim for discrimination. The advantage of successfully arguing discrimination is that damages are unlimited which is not the case with unfair dismissal.

However, in your case, the most fruitful grounds for legal action might be for breach of contract on the grounds that Red Bull had breached the implied terms of good faith and trust and confidence.That is a case you might choose to argue at the High Court.

That would involve a detailed analysis of your contract of employment. Ultimately, whatever you decide, I wish you good luck.

Sundeep Bhatia is a Formula 1 fan and an Employment Law solicitor of Beaumonde Law Practice, Evans House, 107 Marsh Road Pinner HA5 5PA Tel 02088681614 Tel 07803727534

The above article is for entertainment purposes only and no reliance should put on its content without detailed legal advice regarding a particular case.

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