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Jess Varnish case set to be heard at Manchester Employment Tribunal

Daniel Ostanek
5 Dec 2018

Ruling on sprinter’s employment status with UK Sport expected by 17th December

Jess Varnish is set to have her case against British Cycling and UK Sport heard at Manchester Employment Tribunal next week. The track sprinter, who was dropped from British Cycling’s track team in 2016, is suing the two organisations over claims of unfair dismissal.

The tribunal, which runs from 10th to 17th December, will rule on whether she was self-employed or an employee of UK Sport as an athlete receiving funding from the government body. Should Varnish be ruled an employee by the tribunal, the parties would reconvene in 2019 for a further tribunal.

'She was an employee, with no right not to be discriminated against,' Varnish’s lawyer, Simon Fenton, told the BBC.

'This case comes in a line of decisions from the cases of Uber, Addison Lee and Pimlico Plumbers which show how tribunals are looking at what actually happened rather than simply accepting what is said in the contractual documentation.

'And they are deciding that the individuals are workers.'

Varnish was dropped from the elite programme after she and Katy Marchant failed to qualify for the women’s team sprint at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

She would go on to criticise decisions made by British Cycling before being dropped.

After Varnish alleged sexual discrimination against then-technical director of British Cycling, Shane Sutton, an internal investigation found him guilty of using sexist language towards her.

The Australian was cleared of eight other related charges, but resigned from his role.