“Cover-up culture”: NDA use in discrimination cases called into question

“Cover-up culture”: NDA use in discrimination cases called into question
A report damning the use of non-disclosure agreements in discrimination cases has highlighted a 'cover-up' culture in many workplaces and urges the government to make changes to protect workers. We look at the rules, the possible changes – and how UK employers can minimise impact. The Women and Equalities Committee (WEC) has published a report high...
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Act, don’t discriminate: how UK employers can navigate positive action

Act, don’t discriminate: how UK employers can navigate positive action
Cheshire Constabulary have a new recruit -- hired after an employment tribunal. The police force was ruled to be discriminatory after rejecting the white, straight male during a diversity drive. How can employers avoid the same fate when taking positive action? We look at the difference between positive action and positive discrimination, and pinpo...
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Dismissed for being Vegan?

Vegan_story
A recent employment case has highlighted again how discrimination in the workplace can cover many forms, when a man was sacked for, he claims, his ethical vegan beliefs.  Mr Casamitjana worked for an animal welfare charity based in Surrey and informed his manager when he discovered that their pension fund investme...
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£36.50 Cake tests the Laws on Discrimination

£36.50 Cake tests the Laws on Discrimination
In 2014, a gay man walked into a bakery in Northern Ireland which provided a customised cake-making service. This customer wanted the bakery to make a cake and customise it with a picture of Bert and Ernie and the message "Support Gay Marriage". The directors of the bakery were Christians who opposed same-sex marriage and so would not fulfil the or...
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Discrimination, Harassment and Victimisation - The Basics

Discrimination, Harassment and Victimisation - The Basics
​ Let's be honest – discrimination, bullying, victimisation and harassment can be portrayed as meaning the same thing – especially in a workplace environment. So what's the difference between each definition? We run through the basics of the legal meanings of discrimination, harassment and victimisation. In the Equality Act 2010, victimisation and ...
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Can an employer force you to wear high heels?

highheels

A temporary receptionist has claimed that she was sent home from work because she was not wearing high heels. Can they do this?

Upon arrival at her first day at the office, she was informed that flat shoes were not part of the dress code for women. She has since set up a petition calling for it to be made illegal for companies to insist that female employees wear heels.

Whilst the debate has raged as to whether the same amounts to sex discrimination or sexism, a dress code that is introduced for the purposes of requiring conventional appearances for male and female employees, and applied even-handedly, does not amount to sex discrimination. There is nothing preventing an employer from enforcing a common element of smartness and conventionality. There is a distinction between discrimination against both sexes evenly, and discrimination against one or other of the sexes. It is the latter which was prohibited under the Equality Act 2010.

It is important that employers have a dress code policy and when formulating such, an employer should keep potential issues of discrimination in mind. Regard should be had to possible religious sensitivities. As seen above it is permissible to have different rules for women and men, though the rules should not be more stringent for one group than another.

More information 

For advice on discrimination at work, contact Alex Pearce, in our Employment Law Department for specific advice on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 01708 229444.

This article was written by Alex Pearce our Employment Law Specialist at Pinney Talfourd Solicitors. The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice. Specific legal advice should be taken on each individual matter. This article is based on the law as at April 2016.

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Starbucks in disability discrimination row

coffeecup
A dyslexic Starbucks employee has won her case at the employment tribunal on the grounds of disability discrimination.
Meseret Kumulchew, a supervisor at Starbucks recently succeeded in her claim for disability discrimination after she was accused of falsifying documents. She had mistakenly entered wrong information due to her dyslexia and as a result, she was given lesser duties and told to retrain.

Dyslexia is recognised as a disability under the Equality Act 2010. Whilst there is no legal requirement for an employee to disclose a disability, once an employer has been informed, an employer is under notice that they have a duty under the Equality Act.

The Employment Tribunal found Starbucks had failed to make reasonable adjustments and had discriminated against Ms Kumulchew because of the effects of her dyslexia. The Tribunal also found she had been victimised by Starbucks and there appeared to be little or no knowledge or understanding of equality issues.

The Employment Tribunal will determine at a separate hearing the question of compensation.

Alex Pearce, employment law specialist at Pinney Talfourd warns “Employers should be aware of employees with dyslexia and make adjustments were appropriate. Specialist advice is essential to determine the most appropriate adjustments for a particular individual.”

Find out more

If you do find yourself the subject of a disability discrimination claim it is important to seek legal advice immediately to minimise damage to the company and retain employee confidence.

Pinney Talfourd Solicitors’ Employment Law For Business Team look to resolve issues promptly, pragmatically and cost effectively with an eye on the bigger picture. Please contact our Employment Law Solicitor Alex Pearce for specific advice.


This article was written by Alex Pearce our Employment Law Specialist at Pinney Talfourd Solicitors. The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice. Specific legal advice should be taken on each individual matter. This article is based on the law as at February 2016.
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Sexual orientation discrimination in the news

gaycake
An appeal has been issued following a Court decision that a bakery's refusal to bake a cake for a homosexual customer amounted to discrimination.

The cake included the caption "Support Gay Marriage" and the judge in Northern Ireland decided that it amounted to direct discrimination on grounds of the customer's sexual orientation.

The original case had the support of the Northern Ireland Equality Commission and was brought against the bakery and its two directors, who were Christians, in May. They had refused to honour a cake order on the grounds of their religious beliefs.

The judge accepted that the bakery has "genuine and deeply held" religious views, but said the business was not above the law. The firm was found to have discriminated on the grounds of sexual orientation as well as his political beliefs.

The bakery’s appeal will be heard in the Court of Appeal in Northern Ireland.


The Equality Act 2010

The Equality Act 2010 prohibits discrimination in relation to goods, services and facilities and applies to the protected characteristics of age, disability, gender reassignment, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex or sexual orientation (the prohibition on age discrimination does not apply to persons under the age of 18).

The Act prohibits a service provider from discriminating against a person with a protected characteristic in the following ways:

  • Not providing a person requiring the service, goods or facilities with the service in question.
  • Not providing the person with a service, goods or facilities of the quality which the service provider usually provides to the public.
  • Not providing the person with the service, goods or facilities in the manner in which, or on the terms on which, the service provider usually provides the service to the public.
  • When providing the service, goods, or facilities to a person, discriminating against or victimising them:
    - as to the terms on which the service, goods, or facilities are provided
    - by terminating the provision of the service, goods or facilities to them or
    - by subjecting them to any other detriment.
  • Harassing a person requiring the service, or a person to whom the service provider provides the service, goods or facilities

Proceedings for discrimination must be brought in the County Court within six months of the date of the act to which the claim relates. The County Court has a discretion to accept proceedings brought outside of the six-month period if in all the circumstances of the case it is "just and equitable" to do so.


What should businesses do?

Businesses should implement effective policies to ensure equality of, access to and enjoyment of their services. All staff should be trained, practices reviewed and any acts of discrimination by employees should be acted upon by way of a disciplinary.

If you require more information on how to ensure your business stays on the right side of the Equality Act please contact our Employment solicitors This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 01708 229444 to speak to one of the team.


This article was written by Alex Pearce, Associate Solicitor in the Employment Department at Pinney Talfourd Solicitors. This article is only intended to provide a general summary and does not constitute legal advice. Specific legal advice should be taken on each individual matter. This article is based on the law as at July 2015. 

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