James Hazel

James Hazel

James is the head of McKinnells Solicitors Lincoln's employment and dispute resolution department and the firm’s youngest partner. He prides himself on his ability to achieve his clients’ goals efficiently and delivers honest and practical advice in an understandable and jargon free way.


— James Hazel is the youngest partner at McKinnells Solicitors in Lincoln. He is the head of the employment and dispute resolution department.


On Sunday evening many of us will have sat and watched the Paralympic games closing ceremony, sad to see the end of an event that has changed many people’s perceptions on injury and disability. I personally felt inspired and uplifted by the Paralympic experience and think that it has challenged the ‘us and them’ attitude towards people who have disabilities that don’t conform to society’s norms.

The mindset of civilisation in years gone by was that individuals needed to adapt to their environments and that wheelchairs were the obstacles to participation, not steps and kerbs. However, as we moved into the 70s and 80s we began to see infrastructure being adapted to accommodate the needs of people with disabilities and encourage inclusion. There are now clear procedures and policies, ramps and electric doors to demonstrate this progression.

However, these physical alterations only take into account the bodily needs of those they intend to help. We may have automatic doors for people in wheelchairs, but how would we react to a co-worker on a cold windy day asking to have an outside door wedged open because their autism makes them fear being locked in? I wouldn’t want to be sat in the cold, would you? So would you refuse to help, or sit in shivering silence, afraid to be accused of discrimination?

One way that discrimination can occur within an employment context is harassment. Harassment is defined as “unwanted conduct related to a relevant protected characteristic, which has the purpose or effect of violating an individual’s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for that individual”.

So are you discriminating by refusing to allow someone to have a door open on a cold day, or are you being reasonable in the overall context of the entire building and the work environment?

Disability is an issue that people care a great deal about. As an employment solicitor then it is something I have to deal with on a regular basis. The Paralympic Games has certainly made everyone more aware and more understanding, but unfortunately, most employers are still unsure, perhaps afraid, of disability because they still don’t understand it or because they think it has major cost implications.

Not dealing with the issue effectively is just as disabling as the disability itself. Irrespective of disability, creating enabling environments for all employees is the way to drive business forward.

James is the head of McKinnells Solicitors Lincoln's employment and dispute resolution department and the firm’s youngest partner. He prides himself on his ability to achieve his clients’ goals efficiently and delivers honest and practical advice in an understandable and jargon free way.

— James Hazel is the youngest partner at McKinnells Solicitors in Lincoln. He is the head of the employment and dispute resolution department.


Some years ago, when Little Chef was as widespread as McDonald’s is today, motorists could happily walk into one of their bright red restaurants and order an Olympic breakfast. Unfortunately, you can’t do that any more, not because the Little Chef brand is in decline, nor because those massive plates of fried food made cholesterol levels shoot through the roof, but because of the implied and unauthorised connection with the Olympic Games, which could have left the business liable to a fine of £20,000.

In one of the most aggressive pieces of corporate protection ever seen, legislation was passed in advance of the London Olympics to protect the branding of the games themselves and of the games’ sponsors and global partners. In stark contrast to the messy provision of security staff by G4S, this brand protection is being carried out by hundreds of well-trained specialists, usually trading standards officers seconded from local authorities.

These enforcement officers, who wear a distinctive purple uniform, have very wide powers, including the right to enter shops, offices and business premises to investigate breaches. It has been made clear that they will be rigorous in pursuing and prosecuting all violations, no matter how trivial or inconsequential. For those convicted, the fine of up to £20,000 (no doubt plus costs) could close some businesses down.

And what are these purple clad protectors of Adidas, McDonalds and Coca Cola looking for? Essentially, anything that seeks to advertise an unauthorised connection with the games. A long list of banned words has been produced, as well as an outright ban on the Olympic symbols, especially the Olympic rings. So, if a butcher has a window display of sausages in the shape of the five Olympic rings, he could be prosecuted.

Words banned include Olympic, rings, gold, silver, bronze, 2012, twenty twelve, London, summer and games. So a jeweler could not advertise a summer sale of gold rings without risking prosecution, nor, should they be lucky enough to have one, would it be possible for a hotel to advertise that they have an Olympic size swimming pool.

Similarly, while it is possible for a pub to advertise that they will be showing the Olympics on their big screen, they face prosecution if the advert also refers to any brand of beer (other than that official recognised by the Olympic sponsors) being sold by the pub at the same time.

With £1.4 billion invested in the Olympics by sponsors and Olympic partners (10% of the total cost) it is possible to see why there is the need to protect this investment from others jumping onto the bandwagon without paying, but surely a sense of proportion is needed.

It even got to the point that Lord Coe suggested that if a child went into the Olympic stadium wearing a Pepsi Cola t-shirt then, as Coca Cola are the recognised sponsors, the child could be thrown out. He retracted this later, but the message is still clear. Mess with the Olympic juggernaut at your peril.

It seems a long way from Chariots of Fire!

James is the head of McKinnells Solicitors Lincoln's employment and dispute resolution department and the firm’s youngest partner. He prides himself on his ability to achieve his clients’ goals efficiently and delivers honest and practical advice in an understandable and jargon free way.

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