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Just 22% of discrimination cases are successful at Employment Tribunals despite fears of employers

According to GQ Employment Law there were just 710 successful discrimination cases out of a total of 3,210 discrimination cases heard at an Employment Tribunal. This is compared to 18,847 successful non-discrimination cases out of a total of 30,498 heard at an Employment Tribunal.

GQ Employment Law says that this should help calm employers’ fears about losing discrimination claims that they consider to be spurious or brought for tactical reasons.

GQ Employment Law says that the fact that a large majority of discrimination claims are won by the employer is particularly good news for businesses as there is no monetary cap placed on the size of discrimination claims. Unfair dismissal compensation is capped at &pound76,574 or one year’s pay – whichever is lower, but Claimants in discrimination cases can seek amounts far higher than this and, it is not uncommon for high-earners to claim six or seven figure pay-outs. 

These figures do not mean that discrimination is disappearing from the workplace. Indeed, where there is a strong claim of discrimination, employers will often seek to settle the claim before it reaches the Employment Tribunal to avoid bad publicity.

However, the figures do demonstrate that discrimination claims that are not settled are much more likely to be decided in the employer’s favour. GQ Employment Law says that there are a number of reasons for this, including:

&middot         It is not a straightforward task to persuade an Employment Tribunal that discrimination has taken place, not least  because employers guilty of discrimination will never admit to it. Merely highlighting poor treatment and alleging it is due to one’s race, sex, etc is not enough.

&middot         If an employer can show that it treats all employees equally badly regardless of their personal characteristics, it may be able to show there was no discrimination.

&middot         Some employees may  use the threat of a potentially large discrimination award as a bargaining chip even if they know the claim is weak (a so-called “everything and the kitchen sink” claim) – hoping the employer will pay them off just to see the case settled. When the employer chooses not to settle, the weak claim is lost when it reaches the Employment Tribunal..

One recent example of a discrimination case with a high compensation claim is that of a female banker working for a Russian firm in the City. She claimed &pound14 million of compensation after being subject to sexual discrimination.

Jon Gilligan, Partner at GQ Employment Law comments: “Employers are very anxious about defending discrimination claims in the Employment Tribunal. Many believe that the employees are at an advantage and consistently win the majority of cases. When you look at the most expensive class of cases this appears to be untrue.”

“There is always a bit of a risk for employers in defending a discrimination case at the Employment Tribunal, but these figures show that employers normally win.”

“This might encourage risk-averse employers who would normally settle a case to avoid a Employment Tribunal hearing to take stronger line against weak claims.”


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