Discrimination compensation awards increased
Under the Equality Act 2010, it is unlawful to discriminate an individual due to a protected characteristic. This includes age, sex, disability, race, gender reassignment, marriage/civil partnership, pregnancy/maternity, religion/belief and sexual orientation.
What compensation is awarded for discrimination claims?
If an individual has been dismissed, there are entitled to financial losses arising from the dismissal. This includes loss of salary and benefits, with the amount being uncapped.
In addition, individuals are able to claim non-financial losses for injury to feelings. Although the Equality Act 2010 does not provide any guidance about the size of an injury to feelings award, the leading case of Vento provides a clear set of guidelines with three bands of potential awards:
- Lower band: less serious cases where the discrimination is an isolated or one-off occurrence.
- Middle band: serious cases which do not merit an award in the top band.
- Top band: the most serious cases where there has been a lengthy campaign of discrimination.
The Vento bands were initially set in 2002 and since 2017 have been adjusted on an annual basis to take into account inflation.
What are the current Vento bands?
Following a recent announcement by the Presidents of the Employment Tribunals (England & Wales) and (Scotland), the Vento bands will be increased for claims presented on or after 6th April 2021 as follows:
- Lower band: £900-£9,100;
- Middle band: £9,100-£27,400; and
- Upper band: £27,400-£45,600.
Although the upper band has a limit of £45,600, it is possible that in the most serious cases, an award for injury to feelings could be made in excess of £45,600.
When could employers be liable for discrimination claims?
Discrimination rights apply to individuals from the recruitment process onwards. As a result, it is imperative organisations regularly review their working practices, policies and procedures to ensure they are following best practice and acting within the law.
Whilst many forms of discrimination are easy to identify, the effect of modern day working means it is increasingly difficult to identify indirect discrimination claims such as holiday entitlements, dress codes, working hours and staff benefits. Businesses should also be mindful of discrimination claims when responding to the impact of COVID-19, including flexible and homeworking requests, as well as redundancies and restructures.
How can we help?
We can advise you on discrimination issues in the workplace and have many years’ experience of successfully assisting our clients in discrimination claims. Please contact Sally Morris on 01905 610410 or at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss any frequently asked questions.