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Issue 258 - June 2015

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In June's issue (EOR 258)
This month's case studies focus on harassment, looking at two organisations that have tackled the issue. We also report on how supermarket Asda is supporting women into management roles and how London School of Economics has taken action on carers. Our Agenda section examines what is happening on equality and diversity in Wales. (...more)

Diary: General Election 2015
As followers of my Twitter feed (@mhrubenstein) will know, I canvassed for Labour candidates in four marginal constituencies in London during the General Election campaign. Judged by the huge army of volunteers on the ground and by posters in the windows, it looked like it would be a Labour landslide. In the event, Labour held one of the seats (Hampstead) and won a marginal (Hornsey and Wood Green), but lost fairly decisively in Finchley and Golders Green, and in Battersea. (...more)

Diary: 22 QCs - 1 and 2 October
David Reade QC will be providing his insights on the Conservative Government's agenda for employment and discrimination legislation in the opening session on 1 October of our conference 22 QCs on the hot employment law issues of 2015-16. (...more)

Equality and human rights in Wales
Kate Bennett, National Director for Wales Equality and Human Rights Commission, explains what is happening on equality and human rights in Wales. (...more)

The Royal Navy: tackling bullying and harassment
For the Royal Navy, eradicating bullying and harassment is a key issue, endorsed at the most senior level, and is considered necessary for the operational effectiveness of the service. Carol Foster looks at the measures the Navy has put in place to support an inclusive working environment.

WWL NHS Foundation Trust: improving staff wellbeing and engagement
Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust has tackled bullying and harassment as a key component of improving staff wellbeing and engagement. Carol Foster looks at the measures the trust has implemented and their positive impact.

Asda: supporting women’s career development
A women-only training programme has resulted in almost 20% of Asda stores having a female manager. The scheme is complemented by a peer-mentoring programme offering support to first-time mothers. Kate Godwin examines these initiatives.

Supporting carers at LSE
London School of Economics and Political Science has introduced several initiatives to provide support and practical assistance to employees with caring responsibilities. Kate Godwin reports.

This month in discrimination law (June 2015)
This edition covers 15 discrimination cases.

No direct discrimination where ultimate decision-maker not motivated by age
The Court of Appeal holds that in order to amount to direct discrimination, a decision to terminate an employee's contract must in itself be based on a protected characteristic. It is not sufficient that the decision was prompted by reports that may themselves have been tainted by discrimination. Where a claimant's case was based only on the conduct of the ultimate decision-maker, therefore, the tribunal was entitled to dismiss the claim without considering whether those individuals making the reports may have done so on the basis of the claimant's age. CLFIS (UK) Ltd v Reynolds (CA, 30 Apr 2015)

Abstention from sugary drinks not 'treatment'
The EAT holds that a tribunal was wrong to find that an employee with type 2 diabetes was disabled within the meaning of the Equality Act 2010. His condition had no effect other than the need to avoid sugary drinks and this was not sufficient to amount to an impairment of his ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities. Nor could the avoidance of such drinks be seen as a form of treatment which had to be disregarded in assessing the impact of his condition. Metroline Travel Ltd v Stoute (EAT, 26 Jan 2015)

Disciplinary action for blurring professional boundaries not religion or belief
In rejecting an employee's claim of discrimination and harassment because of religion or belief, an employment tribunal draws a clear line between acts carried out because of religion or belief, and those being taken in the context of religious acts. Wasteney v East London NHS Foundation Trust (ET/3200658/14, 27 Feb 2015)

Indirect discrimination where prayer facilities limited
An employment tribunal upholds an indirect discrimination claim where a Muslim employee is told that he can use his manager's office to pray but only when it was vacant. It finds that no-one in the respondent organisation recognised the employee's problem with not having access to the office at specific times, and makes a recommendation that existing managers have diversity awareness training and such training be included in future induction training for newly appointed managers. Ahmed v Stagecoach Bluebird (ET/4112121/12, Oct 2014)

No reasonable steps taken to avoid sexual harassment
An employee on a zero hours contract wins her sexual harassment claim where she delayed making a formal complaint of harassment by her manager who she believed had control over the number of hours' work she would be offered. The employment tribunal also finds that although the employer had the right policies in place, managers simply "paid lip service" to them. It therefore holds that the employer could not rely on the statutory defence of having taken all reasonable steps to prevent the harassment. Southern v Britannia Hotels Ltd (ET/1800507/14, 18 Feb 2015)

Unwanted conduct where previously accepted behaviour becomes offensive
An employment tribunal upholds a claim of racial harassment where comments concerning an employee's nationality, for example, correction of pronunciation of words in English, continue to be made after the employee makes clear that they are offensive. Although the parties agreed that the comments had been made, their perceptions of the effect differed. Krupinska v Stone Gate Pub Co Ltd (ET/2700757/14, 5 Jan 2015)

Breach of contract amounted to indirect discrimination
An industrial tribunal in Northern Ireland holds that the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland had acted in breach of employment contract by refusing to allow an employee to return to work after a five-year career break. It also held that this amounted to indirect sex discrimination as the proportion of those affected by this practice were 80% women, whereas the proportion of women in the non-affected, working group was 65%. Kennedy v Equality Commission for Northern Ireland (Belfast; case ref.548/14, 28 Nov 2014)

Unparticularised race discrimination accepted as valid claim
An unrepresented claimant who ticked the "race discrimination" box on his tribunal application but did not refer to an act of discrimination in the details of the claim, is allowed to proceed with his claim. This case also illustrates the complications for unrepresented claimants regarding remission of fees and how mistakes on this can easily render the claim out of time. The tribunal in this case finds it reasonable that the claimant did not understand the importance of submitting a separate completed remission form, and held that his unfair dismissal and race discrimination claims were allowed outside the time limit. Sandhu v Virgin Media Services (ET/2301209/14, 11 Nov 2014)

Opportunity Now award winners announced
In its Excellence in Practice Awards 2015, Opportunity Now recognised 11 public and private sector organisations that are committed to making a difference for women at work and demonstrated clear leadership by moving women's progression from a "diversity" initiative to a core business priority.

Reasons why Muslim women more likely to be unemployed
Discrimination against Muslim women in the workplace means they are much more likely to be unemployed than white Christian women, even when they have the same qualifications and language skills, something "which can be attributed to discrimination in recruiting and hiring practices", according to Dr Nabil Khattab of University of Bristol, in a paper presented at the British Sociological Association's annual conference.

More ethnic minorities in low-paid and insecure work
An analysis of official statistics reveals that black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) workers have been disproportionately affected by the growth in part-time, insecure and low-paid employment in recent years, according to the TUC.

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