Leader magazineASCL - Association of School and College Leaders

Discrimination case raises levels of 'injury to feelings'

That direct race discrimination cannot be justified is a seemingly self-evident statement.

However, when Amnesty International refused to appoint a person of Northern Sudanese appearance to a post that would have involved potential danger, as they believed, in researching issues of Southern Sudan; and where her research would be likely to be of diminished usefulness as a result of her being perceived as 'from the other side,' they believed their actions were not only justified but for her benefit.

It made no difference. Even an appeal to the Health and Safety at Work Act could not save them.

The only comfort was that the Employment Appeal Tribunal ruled that she did not have a case for constructive dismissal. This would require her to prove that she was entitled to resign without notice because the employer had 'conducted itself in a manner likely to destroy, or seriously damage the relationship of trust and confidence between employer and employee'.

Amnesty had explained that the reason was the safety of the employee and that the decision in no way reflected the view of her abilities or future prospects within the organisation. They had not acted without 'reasonable and proper cause' so that part of the case fell. It is perhaps an illustration of the dangers of absolute legislation.

The EAT has decided to revalue the level of awards for injury to feelings in discrimination cases. For the most serious cases, the band has been increased to 18,000- 30,000; for cases that are serious but which do not warrant the highest award to 6,000-18,000; and for cases which are proved but not particularly offensive or damaging, the upper limit has been raised to 6,000.

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