In a discrimination claim, the tribunal may award compensation for injury to feelings. The tribunal is required to consider whether the unlawful act complained of was:
(i) a one-off event; or
(ii) more than that but not serious; or
(iii) a persistent campaign of (eg) harassment or victimisation.
The amount of compensation awarded can range from a few hundred pounds to £30,000.
In HMLR v McGlue, the EAT considered the case of a woman who had not been considered for an early release scheme because she was on a career break at the time, following a period of maternity leave.
When determining whether the claimant had suffered any injury to her feelings, the tribunal took note of the fact that she had originally been told she was ‘in the pot’ for the scheme before subsequently being told that she was not. In addition, the claimant's grievance on this point had been summarily rejected and she had been forced to make a tribunal claim to have her argument heard.
For these reasons, the EAT considered that the employment tribunal had been right to award her £12,000 in compensation for injury to feelings.
Points to note –
Tribunals will award compensation for injury to feelings on a personal basis. In this case, the claimant’s disappointment at realising she had been misled was a key factor in the tribunal’s decision.
However, other employers should remember that, when dealing with an indirect discrimination claim such as this, if they can show that they had no intention of unlawfully discriminating against the claimant, it is open to them to argue that the claimant is entitled to no compensation at all.