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‘WITHOUT PREJUDICE’ PROTECTION MAY APPLY TO EXIT DISCUSSIONS IN RESPONSE TO A GRIEVANCE


In the case of Garrod v Riverstone Management Ltd the EAT has held that a settlement offer made to an employee after she had complained about discrimination, but before she had started legal proceedings, was genuinely without prejudice and not unambiguously improper. As a result, the employee was unable to refer to the settlement offer in her legal claim.

Ms Garrod was employed by Riverstone Management Ltd as its Company Secretary. She returned from maternity leave on 15 July 2019 and three months later, on 17 October 2019, she told her manager that she was pregnant with her second child. On 30 October 2019 she raised a grievance complaining of mistreatment, pregnancy and maternity discrimination and of bullying and harassment by her manager for almost five years.

A week later she was invited to attend a meeting with, Mr Sherrard, an HR and employment law adviser, for a “preliminary discussion”. After a general discussion about her grievance, Mr Sherrard said he would like to have a “without prejudice” discussion. The company wished to make an offer to terminate her employment and he put forward the figure of £80,000. Ms Garrod felt ambushed by this part of the meeting and began to cry.



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