November 25, 2020

Former GB cyclist Varnish loses employment tribunal appeal

Jess Varnish
Jess Varnish is a former European team sprint champion and world silver medallist

Former Great Britain cyclist Jess Varnish has lost her employment tribunal appeal against British Cycling.

Varnish, 29, has spent years in a legal battle over her claim she should be considered an employee of the governing body or funding agency UK Sport.

The former European team sprint champion lost her initial case in January 2019.

Her appeal has now been dismissed after a two-day remote hearing in May.

The judge, Mr Justice Choudhury, ruled that: “The [original] tribunal was entitled to conclude, based on an evaluative judgment taking account of all relevant factors, that the claimant was not an employee or a worker.

“The tribunal had not erred in its approach to the assessment of employee status and nor had it reached conclusions that no reasonable tribunal, properly directed, could have reached.”

If Varnish – a former European team sprint champion and world silver medallist – had been deemed an employee, it would have paved the way for her to sue both British Cycling and UK Sport for wrongful dismissal and sexual discrimination after she was controversially dropped from Team GB in the build-up to the Rio 2016 Olympics.

British Cycling’s case was that the relationship it had with athletes was similar to students receiving grants from universities, rather than employees.