Former Caterham staff bringing lawsuit against team

2014 F1 season

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A group of former Caterham employees are bringing legal action against the team after being laid off earlier this month.

A representative of the group told F1 Fanatic up to 50 former employees are behind the move following the dismissal of staff by Caterham’s new owners. They claim the redundancies were announced without warning and “will result in significant compensation claims against the team”.

Lawyers have been appointed on behalf of the employees, who also intend to submit their grievances to the FIA. Chris Felton, partner at Gardner Leader law firm, said “the employees concerned were dismissed without consultation or warning, either in person or on the telephone”.

“They have not been paid for July or offered any further payments in accordance with their contract or their employment rights,” Felton added. “The fact that they are not being told anything at all by Caterham is concerning.”

“Running roughshod over employees’ rights is not usual behaviour in Formula One where, although difficult decisions are sometimes made about appointments, employees are always adequately compensated and usually treated with dignity by their teams.

“We would not expect any former Caterham employee to be prejudiced for standing up for their rights when they have been unfairly dismissed with no pay for July, no future earnings and families to support.

“The FIA expect certain standards from its F1 teams and it is these standards we are asking them to uphold and provide assurances that the new owners of Caterham are seen as fit and proper.”

Caterham is under new management following its sale by Tony Fernandes four weeks ago. A group of investors from Switzerland and the Middle East purchased the team, which is now being run by former F1 driver Christijan Albers.

Two weeks after the sale Caterham announced it had “parted company with a number of employees” which it described as “a necessary step taken by the new owners of Caterham F1 Team whose priority is the future of the team”.

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Image © Caterham/LAT

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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18 comments on “Former Caterham staff bringing lawsuit against team”

  1. I hope everything turns OK for them. Not a good way to start a new ownership…

  2. Sounds like the workers have been treated appallingly and it really doesn’t reflect well on Albers and Kolles at all.

    Looks like I need to find me a new team to adopt…

    1. @magnificent-geoffrey It depends on the outcome of the case, of course.

      1. Regardless of the court case, sacking workers for no good reason, not paying them for weeks they have worked nor their notice period is obscene. The team had double the employees it should but they had an obligation to their staff who have families. Hopefully the court case concludes by the end of the season or they may not get their money. I’m not sure anyone actually knows who they are suing.

    2. sounds bad, companies aren’t allowed to do that so if they don’t get paid and offered reasonable compensation the law will have to step in and prosecute the owners.
      I never really like Caterham after the incident With Lotus about which one was Lotus.
      So i moved onto Williams which are now doing well. Something we all haven’t seen in years.

    3. It sure enough reflects very badly on the new management @magnificent-geoffrey

  3. I hope they can find employment with the new Haas operation..

    1. I think many of them will be able to find employment in the F1 / motorsport sector soon enough, but its pretty galling to suddenly be without wages in the summer.

  4. Well, if you want a sure way of making your remaining staff start looking for new jobs, that’s the way you go about doing it.

    1. Indeed. Very short sighted management.

      1. or maybe on purpose?

  5. I was surprised Kolles was allowed to be involved with a team after trying to blackmail Toto Wolff.

  6. Even if Caterham does the right thing now, I hope it backfires a little bit. Firing workers out of the blue and not paying what they’re entitled to is ridiculous.

  7. Please do us a favour and drop Ericsson, Chilton would look like Alonso compared to Ericson he is embarrasing the sport.

  8. Neil (@neilosjames)
    29th July 2014, 3:09

    Wonder if Albers sued Kolles when he got fired from Spyker in 2007… or maybe he just blackmailed him for a job in the future…

    Hope the workers can get something out of this… but it can take years to get these things settled. No saying if Caterham will even exist by then.

  9. Given that these former employee’s likely have great skill sets, I am sure they would not have to many issues finding another job. By saying that, I am just trying to put a little bit of a positive spin on a very bad situation.
    What happened to them should not happen in the business world, and hopefully Caterham will be forced to pay them above and beyond the usual severance package requirements.
    Hopefully there will be other teams on the grid that have had their eyes on some of these employee’s. I really feel for their families.
    I have lost a lot of respect for Caterham’s new ownership. Perhaps the court case will force them to have to sell the team again to someone else who knows what they are doing, and who knows how to respect their employee’s.

  10. Remember a few years ago, the big dreams Mr. Fernandes claimed to have with Team Lotus and everything? He’s the big failure…losing motivation when he should have hired the right people, made some high profile HR poaching and got the team on an upward movement. It is in these circumstances you tend to think that F1 is not just about Formula 1 but Failure 1…

  11. I get that they want their legal rights, i mean corporations take advantage of legal rights all the time why shouldn’t people who need them even more? BUT this ” no future earnings and families to support” thing is a little too rich. If this guys could get a job at an F1 team am certain they can easily find a job elsewhere, they aren’t going to go hungry.

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