Recommendations in discrimination cases
The Equality Act 2010 introduced a new power for tribunals to make recommendations in discrimination cases in respect of an employer’s workforce as a whole (not just in relation to the individual claimant). Although the government is currently consulting on removing this power (consultation closes on 7th August), interestingly there have been two recent examples of tribunals using it.
In Crisp v Iceland Frozen Foods Ltd, Mrs Crisp suffered from panic attacks and was subject to disciplinary proceedings for failing to follow the sickness procedure. Iceland Foods was found to have discriminated against Mrs Crisp because of her disability by failing to amend its disciplinary policy to allow her husband to attend the disciplinary hearing with her and by accidentally leaving a recording on Mrs Crisp’s answer phone, in which the area and HR managers are heard making fun of her panic attacks. The tribunal recommended that, by 23 May 2013, the employer should:
- require the HR team to undergo training in disability discrimination matters, specifically issues related to mental health; and
- require all managers to undergo disability discrimination training.
In Stone v Ramsay Health Care UK Operations Ltd, Mrs Stone was general manager at Winfield Hospital and was given work to do 2 days after giving birth. The tribunal also heard evidence that management were of the view that it was unprofessional for senior managers to take more than ordinary maternity leave and that the company’s equal opportunities policy did not refer to pregnancy or maternity. Mrs Stone was awarded £18,000 injury to feelings. In addition, the tribunal recommended that the employer:
- appoint external consultants within 6 months to implement a programme of training for all managers and the HR team on its existing maternity policies and legal obligations during the “protected period” of maternity leave, with the training to be completed within a 12-month period; and
- redraft its equal opportunities policy to include pregnancy and maternity as a protected characteristic.