Vastly experienced in handling multi-claimant employment law cases on behalf of trade union members, Gerard is meticulous and forceful in seeking fair treatment of employees and in helping to enforce their legal rights. Gerard has been involved in significant landmark cases that strengthen employment rights and improve working life for individuals.
Gerard regularly wins claims for unfair dismissal, working time and working time directive breaches, TUPE - Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) breaches, holiday pay, guaranteed pay, protective awards, and discrimination, for individual trade union members and groups of members.
Never afraid to take on big companies, Gerard led on the landmark employment tribunal case against EasyJet, enabling women returning to work after birth to continue to breastfeed. Or against the haulier Eddie Stobart, who was forced to pay up after a five-year legal battle over holiday pay. Gerard, part of Unite the Union’s strategic case unit, frequently represents members at employment and employment appeal tribunals and has pursued cases right up to the Court of Appeal.
Gerard is described as innovative; always on the look-out for new types of cases; always looking for the next test case to push forward good employment practices.
Working for Thompsons gives Gerard great job satisfaction, particularly when assisting individuals who may not have been able to enforce their rights were it not for their membership of their trade union.
Gerard likes to play football, snooker and pool and can be found at home games at the Stadium of Light cheering on his team Sunderland.
GERARD AIREY’S CASE EXPERIENCE
Unfair dismissal claim: A PCS member was removed from her role as a DWP Surveillance and Tasking Manager when she took maternity leave and forced to accept an alternative role upon her return. Gerard took her case to an employment tribunal which found that this amounted to direct pregnancy and maternity discrimination. It also found that the DWP failed to keep her informed during her pregnancy. She was awarded £12,000 plus 10% uplift (£13,200). Crucially, the tribunal recommended that all managers in the fraud service in the London and Home Counties region should have face to face training on the maternity rights of female employees.
Race discrimination claim: A PCS member was offered a position in Italy by HMRC provided he passed a psychological resilience assessment. The assessor asked questions about Julian’s ability to cope with racism in Italy, as he was of Asian origin. The assessor reported that Julian didn’t possess the level of resilience needed and the offer of the post was withdrawn on the basis of the assessment. Gerard pursued a claim for direct race discrimination and the tribunal confirmed that the assessment and withdrawal of the post were acts of race discrimination. HMRC appealed and lost.
Abercrombie v AGA Rangemaster: A Court of Appeal decision on behalf of 330 claimants which established that a temporary variation of contract to reduce working hours meant that there was an entitlement to guarantee payments
Ambacher & McFarlane v EasyJet: Alandmark Employment Tribunal case establishing that employers should make adjustments for women who wish to remain breastfeeding upon their return to work
Plumb v Duncan Print Group: An Employment Appeal Tribunal case establishing that the carry over period for Working Time Directive holiday is subject to a carry-over period of 18 months.
Unite member, Sara Ambacher, a Thompsons Solicitors’ employment rights client, said: “Gerard Airey was very supportive and extremely patient with my countless concerns, questions and enquiries throughout the entire process. He would normally reply swiftly to emails and phone calls too. Moreover, I feel he did a fantastic job preparing all the relevant paperwork for the tribunal and his work has really helped giving us the best possible chance for a successful outcome. We also appreciated that he came to Bristol for the first day of the tribunal before handing us fully over to counsel. I wouldn't hesitate to go back for legal advice to either of them.”
Legal 500: “Gerard Airey successfully represented two Unite the Union members employed by EasyJet in indirect sex discrimination claims brought before the Employment Tribunal; the claims concerned accommodation for breastfeeding mothers”.