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Discrimination Law Update

You may have read about John McCririck's widely reported failed age discrimination claim against Channel 4, as well as Marks and Spencer's recent controversy concerning the refusal by Muslim staff to serve alcohol and pork to customers.

Employers should be aware, however, that discrimination claims can arise from less obvious circumstances. The following cases provide Employers with a valuable insight and warning about ensuring vigilance against all types of discrimination in the workplace.

Race discrimination against Irish worker who was repeatedly likened to characters from "My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding"

Harper v Housing 21

The arguments in this case were based around the Claimant, who is Irish, alleging that she was subjected to a campaign of harassment by her line manager. It was agreed that the two did not get along, and amongst the allegations made by the Claimant against her line manager were that the Claimant was subjected to a higher level of scrutiny than her colleagues and also had her hours of work reduced without explanation.

The Claimant also alleged that her line manager took a dislike to the Claimant's Irish nationality. The line manager was accused of commenting on the Claimant's "funny accent" and calling the Claimant an "Irish Gypsy" (both verbally and in text messages). The Claimant alleged that her line manager repeatedly likened her to characters from the TV programme, "My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding", by making comments such as "I saw you on TV last night", in a derisory manner.

The Claimant was eventually signed off sick and raised a grievance about the "racially motivated" comments and other issues. The Claimant later resigned and claim direct race discrimination, racial harassment and constructive dismissal. The Employment Tribunal upheld all her claims.

The Respondent's defence to the claim was centred around arguments that the comments were merely "banter", but this was not a position that the Tribunal was prepared to accept.

Religion or belief discrimination against Wiccan who changed her shift for Halloween

Holland v Angel Supermarket Ltd and another

In this case a "Wiccan" requested to change her shift over Halloween so that she could celebrate All Hallows' Eve.

She claimed that she was later mocked by her employers and colleagues, who made jokes based around a stereotypical view of witches, which the Claimant found offensive.

The Claimant was later dismissed by her employers, purportedly for financial reasons. The Claimant claimed unfair dismissal, sex discrimination and religion or belief discrimination. The Employment Tribunal upheld all her claims and awarded her £9,096 for discrimination and £6,145 for unfair dismissal, bringing her total compensation to £15,241.

Tim Jones -

Emma Allchurch -

Employment Team
Morgan LaRoche Solicitors
PO Box 176, Bay House, Phoenix Way,
Swansea SA7 9YT
(01792) 776776

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