Discrimination - Employment law update

When tribunal fees were introduced in 2013 there was a massive drop in the number of discrimination cases going through to the tribunals.

The more complex cases where the stakes were high were still being filed with the tribunals but for many employees, the cost was not felt to be worthwhile.

Now fees have been scrapped

Now that the fees have been scrapped, it is generally accepted that the case numbers may rise.

It is therefore important that employers ensure that their procedures relating to this area are up to date and put into practice to avoid claims against them.

A difficult area of employment law

Discrimination is a difficult area of employment law and there are some recent cases (some of which are now going through the appeals process) that may add to the complexity of keeping on the right side of the law.

Employers may find these cases useful in raising their awareness of the types of circumstances that could result in a claim being made against them.

In one recent case, an applicant for a training contract suffered from Asperger’s Syndrome and was asked to take a situational judgement test as part of the recruitment process.

The candidate asked for adjustments to be made to the test but this was refused and she failed to get the necessary pass mark to progress to the next stage. Her claim for indirect discrimination and disability discrimination was successful at an employment tribunal.

Managing potential conflicts

One of the most difficult employment law issues for employers is managing potential conflicts between “protected characteristics” at work.

An example of this would be where someone claims their religious views means they can object to a colleague’s sexual orientation.

You may have seen in the news a while ago, the case where the Christian bakers in Northern Ireland refused to bake a cake with a slogan that supported gay marriage.

Clear policies

Our employment law team would generally advise employers to ensure that their policies around harassment are clear and used to deal with any instances involving any protected characteristics including race or religion.

As with many employment issues, whilst cases like this can often be dealt with informally it is important that the situation is dealt with properly.

It is too easy to try to avoid the difficult conversations necessary and dealt with correctly, managers can often resolve things and prevent the situation escalating.

It is also important to ensure that managers act fairly and base their actions on the facts and do not treat one side more favourably than the other.

Get specific advice

This type of general information can be useful for an overview of the legislation but as individual circumstances vary so much, we would always advise our business clients to come to us for more specific advice at the earliest opportunity.

Similarly, if an employee feels that their employer is not following the correct procedures or that they have been unfairly treated at work, we can offer them practical and cost-effective advice which can help them resolve the issue often without the added stress or cost of facing a tribunal claim.

If you need any help with employment law issues do get in touch with Daniel Zakis at our Solihull office on 0121 705 7571.

This article is for general information purposes only. It does not constitute technical, financial, legal advice or any other type of professional advice and is no substitute for specific advice based on your individual circumstances. We do not accept responsibility or liability for any actions taken based on the information in this article. For more information, please click here.