Beware - Recordings of managers’ private discussions were admissible evidence

In a recent case the tribunal were asked to consider allowing evidence that was obtained by the Claimant secretly recording her grievance and disciplinary meetings.  This included the managers’ private discussion, when she was out of the room.   The comments made by her manager when she was out of the room included an explicit discriminatory remark, as well as a comment by the manager that he was deliberately skipping key issues in the grievance.   Unsurprisingly the employer did not want the tribunal to hear these discriminatory comments during the hearing of the Claimant’s discrimination claim.

The secret recording was permitted as admissible evidence. It was recognised by the Judge that it was important for an employer to be able to deliberate in private about the grievance and disciplinary issues, however the comments made by the manager could not be said to be part of their legitimate consideration of those matters.

This serves as another reminder that employers should not say or write anything that they do not want to be repeated.  Covert recordings are increasingly being allowed as evidence in tribunal claims.  This case is significant as employers must be aware that covert recordings of  private discussions which are not part of the legitimate consideration of the relevant issues are also likely to be permissible as evidence.
Erica Dennett