“Injury to feelings” provides the most substantial part of an award in cases of discrimination, ie when someone is treated unfavourably because they hold one of the 8 protected characteristics (age, disability, sex, gender reassignment, marriage or civil partnership, race, religion or belief and sexual orientation – sorry Gingers, still no protection for you guys!). Employers often forget that they can be liable for acts of discrimination carried out by their employees in the course of their employment. As of 11 September 2017 these awards have recently been increased by the tribunals and employers should take note.
If someone is discriminated against, they will be entitled to an award for injury to feelings. How are these awards calculated and how much have they gone up?
How is an “Injury to feelings” award calculated?
A method for calculating an injury to feelings award was developed in the case of Vento v Chief Constable of Yorkshire Police and is now commonly referred to by lawyers as being the Vento scale. The Vento scale effectively creates 3 different bands of severity of discriminative acts, all of which are assigned their own level of remuneration. These bands were described as follows:
- lower band: suitable for one-off and isolated incidents where the nature of the prohibited conduct is less serious (award currently up to £6,000. After 11 September 2017: £800-£8,400)
- middle band: suitable for serious cases which do not merit an award in the highest band (award currently between £6,000 and £18,000. After 11 September 2017: £8,400-£25,200)
- top band: suitable only in the most serious cases, such as where there has been a lengthy campaign of harassment (award currently between £18,000 and £30,000. After 11 September 2017: £25,200-£42,000)
- it will also be possible for tribunals to award over £42,000 in exceptional cases.
These increases will have a direct effect on employers. If an employer cannot show that they have policies in place and have provided their staff with training on discrimination, they will be liable for any acts of discrimination carried out by an employee within the workplace. Employers will want to ensure that any diversity and harassment policies are up to date and that their staff are well trained. If you are unsure about anything then please get in touch with the Employment Team at Blackadders!