Healthcare Support Agency Overturns Direct Race Discrimination Finding

A finding of race discrimination is always an extremely serious matter and that is why a rigorous approach to evidence and proof is required of Employment Tribunals (ETs). In one case, a healthcare support agency accused of subjecting a black worker to less favourable treatment succeeded in…

Jun 22, 2021

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A finding of race discrimination is always an extremely serious matter and that is why a rigorous approach to evidence and proof is required of Employment Tribunals (ETs). In one case, a healthcare support agency accused of subjecting a black worker to less favourable treatment succeeded in showing that that high standard was not met.

The worker claimed that the agency failed to respond as it should have done after he twice complained that he had been racially abused by members of another agency’s staff. In upholding his direct race discrimination claim, an ET found that the agency had failed actively to investigate his seriously concerning complaints. That failure, the ET ruled, was entirely unacceptable in a modern workplace.

In allowing the agency’s appeal against that ruling, the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) noted that the ET failed to ask itself whether the worker had been treated less favourably than a hypothetical comparator would have been. After finding that the failure to investigate was unreasonable, the ET went straight on to infer that the worker had, on the face of it, established a case of race discrimination.

There were no obvious pointers towards such an inference and, in the absence of any explanation or analysis of the features of a hypothetical comparator, the ET erred in reversing the burden of proof against the agency. The EAT remitted the case to a newly constituted ET for fresh consideration.

COVID-19 – Carer Sacked After Visiting Pub Wins Unfair Dismissal Claim

The pressure put on many employment relationships by COVID-19 was illustrated by the case of a care worker who was sacked by her vulnerable charge’s mother after she went to the pub in the very early stages of the pandemic. The carer was one of a team employed by the mother to look after her daughter, who suffers from cerebral palsy and is particularly susceptible to infection. On Friday, 20 March 2020, she went to the pub with her partner and a friend. At almost exactly the same time, the…

Suspension on Award of Fire Brigade Safety Equipment Contract Maintained

If you feel that you have been treated unfairly in a public contract tendering exercise, you are anything but powerless and should take legal advice straight away. A High Court case on point concerned the award of a contract for the supply of protective breathing equipment to a municipal fire brigade. Recent years have brought significant improvements in safety apparatus used by firefighters and, against the background of the Grenfell Tower disaster, the brigade was anxious to update its…

Discrimination and the Burden of Proof – Supreme Court Clarifies the Law

Ever since a crucial alteration was made to the wording of the Equality Act 2010, the question of where the burden of proof lies in employment discrimination cases has been the focus of intense legal debate. An important Supreme Court ruling has, however, resolved the issue once and for all. The case concerned a postman who was born in Nigeria and identified as black African and Nigerian. He had qualifications in computing and wished to obtain a managerial or technical role within Royal Mail.…