The Solicitor - The FindLaw UK Life, Family and Workplace Law Blog

Employment law: Apprentice winner loses case against Lord Sugar

Stella English, the winner of series six of the BBC television programme, The Apprentice, has lost her claim at employment tribunal against her employer Lord Sugar, reports The Telegraph.

Ms English, 34, sued the Labour peer for constructive dismissal after leaving her £100,000-a-year job that she landed after winning the UK version of The Apprentice.

The highly publicised case concluded a few weeks ago, but in a verdict delivered last Friday, a panel of three employment judges concluded that the claim should never have been brought and that Ms English was ill advised in pursuing the case.

The Apprentice

Ms English was the winner of series six of the hit BBC show that pits twelve rival businessmen and women against one another in a series of weekly tasks. Each week candidates are divided into two teams who compete to win the task and each week one member of the losing team is 'fired', leaving the process.

English was dubbed by the media as an 'ice maiden' for her steely demeanor, but won the series with her clear thought and well-demonstrated determination. She left school with no formal qualifications, but worked her way up the career ladder to a high-paid job at Japanese investment bank Nomura.

Working for Lord Sugar

English was originally placed in Lord Sugar's computer business, Viglen, but told the tribunal that she was informed on her first day that there was 'no job' for her. Her case centred on the fact that she was not given a role and that this amounted to constructive dismissal.

The tribunal heard that Ms English felt that the job she had been given was a 'sham' and described herself as an 'overpaid lackey'.

However, Lord Sugar, who appeared at the tribunal in person, said the action was an attempt to 'blackmail him' and believed that Ms English thought he would settle out of court rather than testify in person.

"What has happened here is representative of a new wave of claim culture where some employees file spurious actions regardless of whose reputation it may smear in the process," he said after the verdict was announced.

Money and fame

Lord Sugar and his legal team told the court that they believed Ms English had brought the action after becoming disillusioned with the role she had been given. The court heard that Sugar believed Ms English thought the role would be glamorous, spurred on by stories from previous winners of accompanying Sugar in his private jet on jaunts abroad.

Regardless of her motivation, the tribunal decided that Ms English had no basis for constructive dismissal. They cited the fact that she had resigned her employment twice and that the first time Sugar had done all he could to find alternative employment at his 'set top' Freeview company, YouView.

"There was no dismissal of the claimant - the claimant resigned. Therefore the complaint ... fails and is dismissed," said Judge John Warren.


The Apprentice winner loses dismissal case against boss Lord Sugar (The Telegraph)