Disputes, discrimination and severance

When navigating the difficult terrain of disputes or claims of discrimination, it can sometimes seem impossible to locate a solution.

Whether you are an employer or a senior professional, we offer tactical and strategic legal advice to break the deadlock.

Senior executives

For executives, this can be a very difficult time and we will do our utmost to find a solution. ‘People often come to us in an enormous amount of distress,’ says Meriel Schindler, a leading partner in the employment team. ‘Their lives may be falling apart and I will say to them, you are in a very big, dark hole, but we will get you out of it.’

Our lawyers are strategic thinkers with experience acting for senior executives and directors from privately owned firms and major FTSE and NASDAQ listed companies. In one high-profile case in the UK, we handled the departure of Harriet Green, the CEO who had transformed the fortunes of Thomas Cook, as inaccurate press coverage emerged of a crisis that predated her employment at the travel operator. We were instrumental in salvaging her exit package and reputation.


Employers rely on us for our tactical handling of commercially sensitive situations, as in one case where we acted for a gallery that suspected a senior employee of selling artworks privately, in breach of his contract. We helped the gallery to gather proof so decisively that the executive, when called to a meeting, admitted his activities, apologized and offered a repayment.

We act on both sides of discrimination claims, for example acting for the female partners of several law firms who believed their careers had been held back by their gender, and successfully defending an employer in an unusual case where marital discrimination was alleged.

A number of our cases involve bullying and we derive a great sense of achievement for standing up for our clients, because they have not been able to do it for themselves.

Global reach

Withers’ global reach means we often help with cross-border employment matters. In our Hong Kong office, Helen Colquhoun recently acted for an American client who was being dismissed from a British company in Hong Kong, advising on her rights in all three jurisdictions.

Where possible we aim to avoid the financial and personal costs involved in going to trial. However, should litigation become necessary, we have an excellent track record in court and the employment tribunal.

For further help or information

Get in touch

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2022 Chambers UK: leading firm for employment: employer

2022 Chambers UK: top ranked firm for employment: senior executive

2022 Legal 500 UK, top ranked for employment: senior executive

2022 Legal 500 UK, leading firm for employment: employer

Top ranked firm for senior executives

Top tier firm for senior executives

Leading firm for employers

Leading firm for employment (2015-2017)

Meet the team

How the team can help

Track record

SSAFA, the armed forces charity

Withers has had a long and very successful relationship with the armed forces charity SSAFA and we have acted for them on many issues over the years. We are immensely proud of our continued association with this worthwhile organization. Our team was on hand to advise when the charity went through a redundancy exercise and TUPE transfer in Germany. We successfully negotiated when two senior executive roles were terminated, alongside more junior members of staff, one of whom brought a disability discrimination claim. In another notable instance, we advised an Employment Tribunal in the UK over whether the charity could be held liable for an allegedly discriminatory decision taken by the MOD. We secured a ruling in our client's favour.

Harriet Green, CEO of Thomas Cook

When Harriet Green stood down as CEO of Thomas Cook in 2014, she turned to Withers' experienced team to help her develop and implement an exit strategy. The situation became more complicated in May 2015, while she was on garden leave, and had to deal with an onslaught of negative press coverage around her alleged handling of the death of two children in Corfu in 2006 (six years before she joined Thomas Cook). We developed a clear strategy and we closed the matter down to our client's satisfaction.

Co-op bank CEO, Barry Tootell

When director and CEO of the Co-op Bank Plc Barry Tootell stepped down in difficult and controversial circumstances, Withers's team demonstrated our in-depth knowledge of difficult situations to advise and negotiate his exit. Since 2013, our team has continued to act for him on arising issues and enquiries related to his time at the Co-op.

Renault Sport F1 Team

Since Renault Group's cross-border acquisition of Lotus F1 in December 2015, our employment team have provided continual support to the Renault Sport F1 Team. This work has included: advice in relation to a TUPE transfer of employees; drafting and negotiating employment contracts/consultancy agreements with senior employees and key contractors - many with cross-border elements; advising on the disciplining and/or exit of employees; and advising on arrangements with contractors and the termination of such arrangements.

Simon Henry

Withers advised Simon Henry, the former CFO from Royal Dutch Shell PLC, on the English law aspects of his departure.

Anya Hindmarch (t/a A.S.H.S.)

A.S.H.S. is a well-known English fashion house. We have provided strategic advice to the luxury brand on a number of high level employment issues.

A tobacco company CEO

Our senior executive team negotiated a favorable severance package for the outgoing CFO of this major global brand, ensuring that the payout was made tax efficiently and that other terms were met.

CEO and MD of a brokerage company

Acted for the former CEO and MD of a brokerage company in his claim in the High Court and Court of Appeal against the company involving numerous factual and legal issues including restraint of trade and the legality of provisions prohibiting solicitation of employees. The Court of Appeal decision is the leading case in Singapore on restraint of trade.

Former global head of currencies and commodities at HSBC

We represented Frederic Boillereau, HSBC's former global head of currencies and commodities, in a multi-year hard fought unfair dismissal and whistleblowing claim in the Employment Tribunal against the bank and a number of its current and former senior staff.

Former global head of currencies and commodities at HSBC

We represented Frederic Boillereau, HSBC's former global head of currencies and commodities, in a multi-year hard fought unfair dismissal and whistleblowing claim in the Employment Tribunal against the bank and a number of its current and former senior staff.

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