In 2009, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) raided the premises of the Consulting Association. They discovered a blacklist with over 3,200 construction workers’ names. Over 40 firms had accessed this.
Earlier this year, an electrician was reinstated at the Crossrail project after bringing a claim in the employment tribunal for, amongst other complaints, blacklisting.
Unfortunately, blacklisting is a real and current problem which results in hard-working, responsible employees who voice their concerns (about, for instance, a faulty fire door) being dismissed and prevented from working within their industry again.
The current legislation to prevent blacklisting is the Employment Relations Act 1999 (Blacklists) Regulations 2010. These Regulations make it unlawful to compile, use, sell or supply a ‘prohibited list’ – a blacklist. Such lists often contain details of people who are or have been members of trade unions or people who are taking part or have taken part in trade union activities.
Are on on a blacklist?
If you think that you have been dismissed from a job, suffered a detriment at work or have been refused a job, and you believe this may be because of your current or past involvement with a trade union or, for example, whistle-blowing complaints you have made, it may be that your name is on an illegal blacklist and you’ve been blacklisted.
If you wish to check whether you are on the Blacklist held by the Consulting Association you can call the ICO’s helpline on 0303 123 1113 between 9am and 5pm, Monday to Friday.
If your details are not on this list, unfortunately it is tough to discover if you are on a blacklist; however, here are a few things to bear in mind and some ideas that might assist you if you believe your name might be on a blacklist:
•Your job interview goes well, and you receive an immediate positive response from a potential employer. They take up your references and suddenly, their attitude towards you becomes cold and formal.
•If this happens, we recommend that you communicate with the potential employer and ask them for reasons for their change of heart. There may be a genuine, lawful reason (e.g. something in one of your references, such as a large number of days of absence with an ex-employer).
•If the potential employer will not inform you of their reasons for the change in their attitude, it may be that one of your referees is providing you with a negative reference. You could try changing the referees on your CV, one at a time, to a different person in the company that you used to work for. If you are receiving a negative reference from a particular referee, it will become obvious if you successfully obtain employment.
•If the above suggestions fail, it may be that you are on a blacklist. Unfortunately, as an individual, it is complicated to discover the existence of a blacklist. If you do, however, learn that you are on a blacklist, there are a couple of legal options open to you.
If you have been blacklisted
You might be able to bring a claim in the Employment Tribunal. You should be aware that the time limit for bringing such proceedings is usually three months (less one day) from the date of the act you are bringing a claim for. The Employment Tribunal has the power to extend this limit in exceptional circumstances.
You might be able to bring a claim to the County Court or the Court of Session. In these courts, you have six years to commence proceedings from the date of the act you are bringing a claim for.
Our advice to you is that if you are a trade union member and believe you are on a blacklist, contact your union immediately for advice.
This guest blog from Morrish Solicitors is for information only and is not intended to be a substitute for legal advice.