Senior case handler Rachel is a member of Thompsons Solicitors’ Trade Union Law Group (TULG) and is based out of the firm’s Manchester offices.

Rachel has more than 17 years experience as a trade union lawyer, joining Thompsons as an employment rights lawyer in 2002 and joining the TULG in 2012.

As part of the TULG, Rachel advises trade union clients on collective and strategic issues at a national level and handles union-related cases. The Legal 500 describes Rachel as an “impressive” lawyer who is “routinely called upon to act in high profile union claims and those with strategic importance for workers rights”.

Rachel’s responsibilities include helping unions to stay on the right side of the law when calling industrial action. In the event of a legal challenge by an employer, Rachel works with the union in putting together a defence.

Rachel represents victims of blacklisting, helping them with the forensic process of obtaining and collating evidence to build a case, and was part of the team who secured £1.9 million in an out of court settlement for 50 blacklisted trade unionists.

As well as regularly giving talks and facilitating seminars for trade unions on employment law and collective issues, Rachel writes briefing notes for trade union legal officers and commentaries for Thompsons’ own publications, including the Labour and European Law Review.

Rachel also represents union members, mainly teachers, in more complex employment tribunal claims, including whistleblowing, trade union victimisation and discrimination.

The most rewarding thing about working at Thompsons for Rachel is the opportunity to be able to work on innovative cases which break new ground in using the law to protect the rights of working people.

Outside of work, Rachel enjoys cycling, travel and scuba-diving.

Rachel's case experience

Birmingham City Council v Unite the Union & Unison [2019] EWHC 478 (QB)  - The unions successfully resisted an attempt by the Council to obtain a High Court injunction to prevent their members from taking strike action.

Eastham Refinery Ltd v Unite the Union 2018 – The union successfully challenged a High Court injunction, obtained by the employer without notice, securing the right to picket lorry park entrances as well as the right to conduct lawful protests on the public highway.

Hartley & Others v King Edward VI College [2017] UKSC 39 – The claimants appealed to the Supreme Court, on the issue of the application of the Apportionment Act to the calculation of strike pay, and were successful.

Ms K Smith v London Borough of Bromley [2017] – The employment tribunal found that the council had subjected Ms Smith, the Unite branch secretary, to unlawful detriments on grounds of her trade union activities.

Bent & Others v Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust [2011] – The employment tribunal found that a pay progression policy unilaterally imposed by the Trust constituted a breach of nationally agreed terms and conditions. As the case was being treated as a test case, other NHS Trusts subsequently withdrew similar policies.

Secretary of State for Work and Pensions v Mr B Whyment McCarthy UKEAT/0419/09 - The Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) upheld an employment tribunal decision that the way in which the employer had dealt with a complaint against the claimant amounted to unlawful discrimination on the ground of his sexual orientation.

Khan v Manchester Primary Care Trust [2005] – The Manchester employment tribunal found that the employer’s decision not to appoint the claimant to a post, amounted to unlawful discrimination on grounds of her race and awarded compensation of £58,000.

Professional memberships

Rachel is a member of the Industrial Law Society.


Stewart Monk, a NASUWT member and former Thompsons Solicitors client said: “I was euphoric when I heard this news yesterday and now know that the long wait to achieve such a judgment was worthwhile. I can’t thank you enough for everything you have done in holding this case together.”

A trade union general secretary said: “(Rachel) your workshop was extremely well received and the evaluation forms are full of positive feedback from the attendees.”

Union member: ” I was extremely impressed at all times by your professional competence and I felt extremely safe in your hands.”