To those who have encountered Christian Mallon on the jobs market, he is a man of two distinctly different guises. On the one hand there is Dr Christian Mallon, whose carefully composed CV documents an impressive list of qualifications, including a degree in chemistry, a Master’s in instrumental analytical science and a PhD in chemical engineering, not to mention a Master’s in Business Administration (MBA).
In different circumstances, Dr Mallon might be hailed a shining beacon of achievement, not to mention determination for anyone struggling to find work, being in the habit of firing off that very CV at a rate of five job applications a day, or 2,000-odd a year.
But then there is the other side to Christian Mallon, one that has come to strike terror into the hearts of small business owners across the UK.
This Christian Mallon cuts an altogether more shambolic figure when he appears before employment tribunals, as he has several times in recent years after lodging a dizzying string of claims of disability discrimination against businesses the length and breadth of the country.
For, as the Mail revealed last week, Dr Mallon, who has been out of full-time employment since 2019, seems to have alighted on a new career: that of the professional victim, a role that appears to have netted him at least £35,000 in dividends, a figure he disputes.
As an employment tribunal judge observed last month, the purpose of making 4,643 job applications, as recorded on a CV website used by Dr Mallon, was ‘not because the claimant genuinely believed he was able to undertake each of those roles, including the role which is the subject of this claim, but to provide an opportunity to seek a settlement or to bring an employment tribunal claim, whether or not there was any merit in such claim. This is effectively now the claimant’s chosen career.’
Christian Mallon seems to have alighted on a career as a professional victim, a role that appears to have netted him at least £35,000 in dividends, a figure he disputes
So what does this career entail?
It all centres around disability discrimination legislation, which requires that job applicants are afforded ‘reasonable adjustments’ where needed. Dr Mallon, 49, who lives in a £300,000 redbrick detached home on the outskirts of Cannock, in Staffordshire, with his partner and son, has a number of diagnoses to his name.
In 2014, he was diagnosed with dyspraxia – a condition which he says makes it difficult for him (among other things) to fill in online forms; then in 2021 he was diagnosed with autism and more recently with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
So the 6ft 5in Northern Irishman’s modus operandi appears to work something like this. He fires off job applications using a ‘one-click’ system, which sends his CV far and wide, but without tailoring it to any one job advertised.
On his CV, he informs firms that his disabilities mean that he needs to make his application by phone, and he requests interview questions in advance. It is what happens next that is problematic for the companies involved.
For when Dr Mallon’s numerous job applications are rejected – usually because he lacks the appropriate skills or experience – he is in the habit of issuing replies such as this one from January, 2021:
‘can i ask why you did not follow my reasonable adjustments listed on my cv as i cannot help my medical condition… equality act has been in place for 11 years and doc attached what your duty is under law’ [sic].
The grammar might be questionable but his intention couldn’t be more clear: Dr Mallon is threatening to ‘go legal’ – a costly, time- consuming and stressful experience for all concerned. His exploits were brought under sharp scrutiny last month when he was ordered by an employment tribunal in Southampton to pay £18,000 towards the costs of Electus Recruitment Solutions, a small 12-person business based in Bournemouth. It had rejected his application (one of a string made to the firm) for a role as technical manager in the energy sector because he did not meet the requirements of the job.
Dr Mallon had been so unhappy that within six minutes of receiving the response, he was tapping out his reply: ‘can I ask why you did not follow my reasonable adjustment listed on my cv? do you have a problem with disabled people working? as I cannot help my medical condition and find a doc attached why my request is a reasonable one to ask’ [sic].
Sound familiar? A reserved judgment from an earlier stage of the Electus case notes that the claimant has ‘commenced over 100 claims in tribunals’. The Mail has found 57 cases lodged on the Employment Tribunals services website, which only reaches back as far as 2017. The first documented claim seen by the Mail relates to a job application made in 2016.
The job in question? Deputy Secretary to the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, based in Belfast – a role in which the successful applicant would act as chief adviser to the Minister, overseeing a staff of 900 and a budget of ‘approximately £335million’. The post required specific criteria, notably professional qualifications and expertise in agriculture and the agri-food industry. Dr Mallon, who did once work in a takeaway, admitted at the tribunal he did not meet the criteria although insisted he still had a 50/50 chance of getting the job as he ‘had the understanding but not the experience’.
One of the roles Mallon applied for was Deputy Secretary to the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, based in Belfast – a role in which the successful applicant would act as chief adviser to the Minister,
Dr Mallon’s modus operandi appears to work something like this. He fires off job applications using a ‘one-click’ system, which sends his CV far and wide, but without tailoring it to any one job advertised.
In evidence, he then proceeded to insist he could not click an activation link within an email sent by the ministry’s HR team to assist him and was similarly confounded by opening attachments. On this occasion Dr Mallon’s claim extended to discrimination on the grounds of religious belief, too, based on little more than the fact that he was Roman Catholic and the HR executive was, apparently, Protestant. His claims failed on both counts.
Notwithstanding this bruising experience, it is clear from the Mail’s investigations into Dr Mallon’s litigious history that his jobseeking efforts have seen him apply for a bewildering plethora of roles, including one post that required a medical degree and another with the National Crime Agency.
For those on the receiving end of Dr Mallon’s scattergun enterprise, it’s an exhausting, not to mention potentially expensive, encounter.
‘He always follows the same pattern,’ says one battle-weary businessman. ‘Nobody has wide enough experience to go for the range of jobs he does, he is trying to catch you out. He’s the bane of our life; we are just a small business and I can’t tell you the stress he put us under… and that’s before you think about reputational damage.’ Stuart Abbott, whose international business Rasei Ltd is based around highly specialised technology involving graphene composites, agrees. He was looking for a researcher with significant graphene experience to help him develop his small start-up when he advertised in 2021 – something Dr Mallon did not have. Yet Dr Mallon deployed his usual response to his application being rejected. The reply from Stuart, who like Dr Mallon has a PhD in engineering, could not have been more diplomatic.
As he tells me: ‘The first thing I did at some ridiculous hour in the evening was write back to Christian and say, “Look, if conversation is going to help you understand where we’re at, I’ll happily do that.” ’
Thanks to Stuart’s response, a claim made by Dr Mallon was eventually struck out but not before an exhaustive litigation process.
For, in order to lodge a tribunal claim, claimants must first contact Acas (The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service), to see if the problem cannot be resolved out of court. In short, this often means a financial settlement, and Stuart recalls being told he could settle by paying Dr Mallon ‘about £3,000’.
But he refused to pay a penny, feeling he had done nothing wrong. ‘I spent months racking my brains,’ Stuart recalls as he waited for the trial, ‘wondering had I done the right thing? I couldn’t understand why somebody acted that way.’
Stuart represented himself, reducing costly legal fees, but says: ‘The stress, you can’t put a price on that, the cost of being accused of something that clearly you have not done; it’s almost like the woke system has fallen over its own scale now to the point at where people like Christian can take advantage of big business.
‘The problem is, not everybody’s a big business and some of those he targets are individuals or small teams and the impact that has, the time and the worry and the additional stress, is something you can’t measure.’
According to court documents, Dr Mallon – who has two properties he rents out in Scotland and a house in his native Northern Ireland, plus his own business selling ‘nano technology’ products for motor vehicles (which he calls his ‘hobby job’) – has netted £35,000 from making disability complaints.
It’s unclear how that figure has been reached or if it includes settlements made before any claim is even lodged.
Like Stuart, Tim Bryne, as chairman of large recruitment firm The Ginger Group, refused to settle. His company had been targeted by Dr Mallon in 2018 when he applied for a job for which, once again, he was hopelessly inexperienced.
Acas’s suggested payment of £6,000 had gone up to £7,000 by the time the claim hit the tribunal schedule. But at the last minute Dr Mallon withdrew the case. Tim says: ‘He doesn’t want to go to tribunal and that is evident by the number of times he has withdrawn cases. I believe it’s all about emotional blackmail.’
According to employment law specialist Lawrence Davies, of Equal Justice Solicitors, around three quarters of discrimination complaints settle without a tribunal. No wonder, when he says that even a short hearing lasting one to three days will cost £20,000 to £50,000 in legal fees.
‘You get around ten per cent of claimants who withdraw without a settlement when they realise the inherent weakness of their case or to avoid a public confrontation,’ Lawrence says.
The Attorney General can apply to the Employment Appeal Tribunal for a Restriction of Proceedings Order against a serial litigant, although it would appear that, so far, that has not happened with Dr Mallon. He, meanwhile, insists he doesn’t want to go to court.
‘If you had done four and a half degrees and worked in 30 jobs, wouldn’t you want to work?’ Dr Mallon tells the Mail, in a long conversation sitting in one of three cars on his driveway. ‘I thought, I am 49 with 18 years left to work. If I don’t do anything then I never get to work. If I do something, I am more likely to get work in the future,’ he says.
As for being ‘vexatious’, he insists: ‘That is their perception. I would say I am applying for jobs and disclosing my conditions and asking for reasonable adjustments. I need a job. I have a family, a mortgage and child. I need reasonable adjustments and people are not making them. Do you put your hand in the air and tell your story or do you let it go?
‘In a world that was neuro-diverse-friendly, if something happened to you, you would call the disability police. But there is no such police force. The only way is to get Acas involved and then get a tribunal to decide.’ Since his experience, Tim Byrne has conducted extensive research into Dr Mallon’s claim history, and in 2019 decided to turn the tables on him for costs. Mr Byrne won £2,000.
What he really feels about Dr Mallon, he is too circumspect to say – he restricts himself to ‘scruffy’ and ‘probably quite wealthy’.
But having spent his life working in business he says this: ‘We have laws in this country to protect people. I used to work in travel and we used to fight all of the complaints because people make false complaints.
‘The reality is companies fight everything because of people like him, who are abusing the system.’
But, as he points out, where does that leave the genuine victims of discrimination of all kinds whose claims are sitting in an overloaded system, waiting to be heard?