• Robert Spicer

500 employment law cases (2)

Here are some more examples of material from our new publication.

Racial insult Case Henry v Ashtead Plant Hire Co Ltd (2013) Eq Opp Rev 233:32, East London ET. Facts H, a black man, was employed by A. A colleague referred to him as “nigger”. He reported this to HR, which took no action. H complained of race discrimination. Decision The complaint was upheld. The tribunal agreed that the use of the word “nigga” was commonplace with younger people. The word once thought to be the ultimate insult has, to some extent, been reappropriated by black people. It does not sound good coming from a young, white person to an older black person. The context was all wrong. It was a crude, if old-fashioned, racial insult which had rather lost some of its sting in modern context with younger people, due to the rap culture. £4500 was awarded for injury to feelings, based on the mid to high scale in the lower Vento band.

Victimisation Grievances and tribunal claims Case Woodhouse v WNW Homes Leeds Ltd UKEAT/0007/12 Facts A long-standing dispute between employer and employee resulted in nine grievances and nine tribunal applications. The issue was whether the employee could complain of victimisation. EAT decision 1. In relation to victimisation, the ET had applied a comparative test. Section 27 of the Equality Act 2010 deliberately dropped such a test. The test now is whether the claimant was subjected to a detriment because he/she did a protected act. 2. The employer had objected to the way in which the claimant had brought the claims, believing that it had been completely unreasonable. It is a slippery slope towards neutering the concept of victimisation if the irrationality and multiplicity of grievances can lead, as a matter of routine, to the case being outside the scope of section 27. All the more so when the origin of the problem is established, as here, to have been real as opposed to imaginary race discrimination.

Migrant status Case Taiwo v Olaigbe (2013) Morning Star, May 17, EAT Facts T, a Nigerian, was employed by O as a domestic worker. T alleged that she had been systematically abused and exploited. She complained of race discrimination, comparing herself with a domestic worker of British national origin who would not have been treated in the same way. The employment tribunal dismissed her claim on the basis that she had been badly treated, not because she was Nigerian, but because she was a vulnerable migrant worker. This was not a protected characteristic under the Equality Act. T appealed to the EAT. Decision 1. The appeal was dismissed. 2. T had made the error of assuming that because treatment is obnoxious it is also discriminatory. 3. T’s vulnerability was not an attribute peculiar to any racial group.

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