TABLE OF CONTENTS
TABLE OF CONTENTS………………………………………………………………………… 1
THE HISTORY OF DISCRIMINATION IN THE UK……………………………………..…… 4
THE EQUALITY ACT OF 2010 ON RELIGIOUS DISCRIMINATION…………………………… 6
Circumstances when being treated differently on religious grounds is lawful or justified…………………………………………………………………………………………… 7
THE EQUALITY ACT OF 2010 ON DRESS CODE…………………………………………… 8
EQUALITY ACT OF 2010 ON PEOPLE OF COLOUR……………………………………………. 9
CASE LAW ON DRESS CODE DISCRIMINATION ON RELIGIOUS BACKGROUND AND PHILOSOPHICAL BELIEF IN THE WORKPLACE…………………………………………. 10
CASE LAW ON DRESS CODE DISCRIMINATION BASED ON THE DRESS CODE IN THE WORKPLACE……………………………………………………………………………….… 14
CASE LAW DEALING WITH DRESS CODE DISCRIMINATION BASED ON RACIAL GROUNDS OR (PEOPLE OF COLOR) IN THE WORKPLACE…………………………………………………………………………………. 16
SUMMARY ON WHETHER THE JUDGES IN THE ABOVE CASES APPLIED THE LAW CORRECTLY………………………………………………………………………………..… 18
ACADEMIC EXPERTS’ OPINION ON EMPLOYMENT TRIBUNAL’S INTERPRETATION OF THE EQUALITY ACT…………………………………………………………………….. 19
ANTI-RACISM CAMPAIGNERS ON EMPLOYMENT TRIBUNAL DECISIONS……………. 21
THE UNITED KINGDOM’S GOVERNMENT TAKES ON EMPLOYMENT TRIBUNAL THE JUDGES’ DECISIONS…………………………………………………………………………. 23
THE PROVISIONS OF THE EQUALITY ACT 2010 VIS A VIS THE DECISIONS OF THE EMPLOYMENT TRIBUNAL JUDGES……………………………………………………… 23
The language used in the judgments that seem to have gone wrong………………………………………………………………………………………….. 24
Discrimination refers to the unfair or unequal treatment of an individual based on certain characteristics commonly referred to as discrimination grounds. These include race, religious background, gender, age, civil partnership, marital status, maternity, disability, and pregnancy. The Equality Act of 2010 lists these grounds and terms them as the protected characteristics. The United Kingdom is a signatory of several international treaties that impose an obligation on the states to protect human rights, including freedom from ill-treatment and discrimination. The European Convention on Human Rights is one of such international treaties. Before the enactment of the Equality Act of 2010, there were few stipulations concerning discrimination. The applicable laws in place were also not very clear on the various grounds of discrimination regarding what conduct constituted discrimination and what did not.
This qualitative study has explored the concept of discrimination, particularly discrimination of religious minorities and people of color on the dress code in workplaces. This paper has extensively covered the meaning of discrimination, how discrimination arises, and further listed the Equality Act’s protected grounds. It has also handled racial discrimination, discrimination on religious grounds, and discrimination on dress codes separately. To achieve this paper’s intended goal, it has covered various case law examples dealing with the above-listed issues.
For this research paper, Religious discrimination refers to the unfair or unequal treatment of individuals or individuals based on their religious background. Either being part of or not part of a certain religious background. On the same note, dress code refers to the dressing (mainly considers the garment or garments worn and where it is worn) of an individual or individuals. People of color refer to individuals who are not white.
The history of discrimination in the United Kingdom
Racism has been one major ground of discrimination in the United Kingdom that persists despite the various efforts to eradicate racism in the country completely. It mainly resulted from Britain and her colonies’ relationship, where some inhabitants of the said colonies found their way in Britain. They were majorly discriminated against because of the color of their skin. A survey conducted by the Eurocolor union in 2019 indicated that among the 12 countries surveyed, the United Kingdom was discovered to be the least racist country. There were several varieties of racism in the United Kingdom, and each varied from the other. These categories include Racism against African-Caribbean’, the second was against Jews, against Asians, against the Chinese, against the Irish, and Eastern Europeans. Other forms of discrimination, such as discrimination on a gender basis, also existed in the United Kingdom. Gender Inequality took various forms such as unequal employment opportunities and wages, education, and different spheres such as political leadership. In her paper, Thomson Victoria argues that the wage gap between the two genders continues to persist despite the various campaigns on gender equality and non-discrimination. Disability is another ground that makes some people be treated better than others or be accorded special treatment instead of others. On the same note, people with disabilities experience discrimination in various ways, such as denying employment opportunities despite outlining the relevant qualification tests required. Others are not allowed to go to schools where other students attend purely based on their disability. The grounds listed above are not the only grounds of discrimination. Rather, they are the most prevalent grounds of discrimination. Other forms of discrimination in the workplace not included in the list include discrimination based on trade union membership. Discrimination of employees who work part-time, and furtherdiscrimination of employees working on a fixed-term contract.
According to the law, all individuals are equal, and every person has a right to be treated with human dignity. Therefore, to uphold the principles of equality, something had to be done to curb the various forms of discrimination that arose.
The UK anti-discrimination legislation, namely the Equality Act, was consequently incorporated to deal with various discrimination levels occasioned in the country. The legislation comprehensively protects individuals from discrimination based on several classes.The legislation was incorporated to protect individuals from being discriminated against based on the above-listed grounds. Additionally, the UK anti-discrimination legislation was majorly designed to affect the principles of equality, non-discrimination, and respect for human dignity. The United Kingdom had been a member of the European Union for a very long period of time, which means, therefore, that most laws governing the United Kingdom, including the UK anti-discrimination law the (Equality Act)is a product of the European Union Law. The United Kingdom seized being a member of the European Union from January 1, 2021. Therefore, the United Kingdom has the liberty to either continue applying the European Union law or to disregard it, all the same, thus formulating and further incorporating new legislation to replace the old ones. Before the United Kingdom takes that step, the European Union law on anti-discrimination, which inspired the UK anti-discrimination legislation design, should be critically analyzed. The EU anti-discrimination law analysis will formulate a perfect background for the scope of the introduction of UK anti-discrimination law.
Despite having the UK anti-discrimination legislation in place, there have been principle and pragmatic issues concerning its interpretation. On the one hand, the Act, as was earlier stated in this paper, was designed to adhere to the principles of equality, non-discrimination, and respect for human dignity. On the other hand, there are various concerns raised regarding maximizing business efficiency by minimizing regulatory burdens. In essence, the latter implies that certain forms of discrimination should be allowed; what then matters mostis how the discrimination extends.
The Equality Act of 2010 on Religious Discrimination.
The Act, when discussing religious discrimination, does not specifically focus on one religion. Rather, it focuses on all religions. These include Hindu, Islam, Christianity, Rastafarianism, Judaism, Paganism as well as Buddhism. In the European Convention on Human Rights, Article 9 stipulates that all persons are free to exercise the religious beliefs they choose. The Equality Act clearly outlines that a certain practice need not be intentional to be unlawful. This, therefore, means that religious discrimination can occur even when the discriminating party was not intending to. The Equality Act categorically states that no individual shall be discriminated against for being part of not part of a certain religion. Secondly, no individual shall be discriminated against for close association with someone from a certain religious background. Thirdly, no individual shall be discriminated against by mere perception of belonging to a certain religious background. Lastly, no individual shall be discriminated against because he holds or not holds a certain philosophical belief. The Act further emphasizes the meaning of a philosophical belief. According to the Act, a philosophical belief is not just an opinion; rather, it is an important aspect of human life that affects various aspects of human life. The one who identifies with that specific religious belief must show so much respect and seriousness concerning the belief, so much so that it is indisputable that it is indeed a philosophical belief.
The Act sets out various types of discrimination resulting from a religious background. The first one is direct discrimination. The second one is indirect discrimination. Direct discrimination refers to instances when a person treats another worse than the third party in a similar set of circumstances purely based on religious background. A school refusing to admit children of the Islamic faith is a perfect example of direct discrimination on religious grounds. Indirect discrimination refers to being mistreated due to a rule or regulation that was put in place which disadvantages persons of a specific religion. For instance, the management imposing certain activities on Fridays despite knowing a certain employee is a Muslim. This, therefore, places the specific employee at a disadvantage, which is caused by his religious background.
The Act adds that any employee who feels his/her right to religious manifestation is limited has an obligation to object. However, in such instances, the employer may still have the upper hand since he can restrict the employee from wearing religious symbols such as the rosary where it is visible. Similarly, some schools also prohibit students from wearing rosaries on top of other clothing.
The Act protects employees from harassment or victimization when employees exercise their statutory right to object to discriminatory practices.
Circumstances when being treated differently on religious grounds is lawful or justified.
The first instance is referred to as an occupational requirement. This occurs where a person is only employed if he/she is a member of a certain religion. For instance, a priest serving in a catholic school must practice the catholic faith, and a religious teacher teaching in an Islamic school needs to be a Muslim. Additionally, some faith schools only hire teachers from a certain religion and other religions. An organization might have been formed and grounded on certain religious principles. Therefore, the ethos governing the organization cannot be sidelined. This means that the organization will hire people from the religion and those who have a deeper understanding of the required ethos. An organization has set certain goals, such as taking several steps or actions to improve the organization’s religious belief might end up disadvantaging certain individuals who practice a different faith. Additionally, a different treatment may be justified in other places outside work if a faith school only admits students from a specific faith. The Equality Advisory and Support Service provides guidance on matters concerning discrimination. However, each case is unique in its own way, and it is therefore judged on its own merit.
The Equality Act of 2010 on Dress Code.
The Equality Act does not give examples of certain acts that are unlawful. Similarly, it does not give definitions of sexist behaviors. What the Act does is to guide the various forms of behavior that would be referred to as sexist. The duty is upon the courts to give a proper interpretation and better construal of the Act to suit each specific case based on the case by case merit. Alternatively, different employers have different applicable dressing codes depending on the nature of their occupation. It is the duty of the employer to provide a clear and proper dressing code that is not unlawful to the employees. For instance, an employer who provides a dress code that requires telling the female employees to wear only short skirts would be unlawful since that would discriminate against those who find it hard to do so because of their religious background. Similarly, an employer who imposes a dress code where the female employees are only required to wear heels to work would be unlawful. This is because in determining the lawfulness of a certain dress code, certain factors, such as the employees’ health and safety, have to be critically considered. The Act outlines that an employer has certain duties that he must abide by. Firstly, as earlier mentioned, he must take the health and safety of his employees into consideration. Secondly, he has a duty to make reasonable adjustments for employees with disabilities. Thirdly, transgender persons are a special group that the employer should take into consideration. Fourthly, dress code, and religious symbols are pertinent to employment, which the employer must critically evaluate.
Alternatively, under the Act, an employee has certain rights as well. The first right is the right to speak out to the manager. An employee finds the dress code imposed by the employer as discriminatory; he has a right to tell the manager. The Equality Act protects employees from unlawful victimization as a form of punishment when they question the management concerning certain wrongful conduct occasioned in the workplace. The employee has expressed his views, but the management still chooses to ignore them; they have a right to proceed to the human resource department or the specific department dealing with staff affairs. The employee’s respective trade unions also handle such cases. Normally, the Employment tribunal should be the last resort after the employee has exhausted all other avenues with no success.
Equality Act of 2010 on People of Colour.
Race is a ground and a characteristic that has been banned by the Equality Act. Both forms of discrimination, whether direct or indirect, have been banned, and there is no justification or an exception laid out to this general rule. The Act has categorized this class into several other subdivisions. The first one is protection from discrimination based on the perception of belonging to a certain class of people. Majorly the class refereed in this category is the protected class. The Act simultaneously protects individuals who associate with the category referred to as the people of color. Further, the Act has increased protection in public spaces and the provision of public services. The Act updated the existing law, such as the Civil Rights Act, by ensuring that service providers or suppliers of goods and services do not discriminate against others on a racial characteristic. Updating the law serves several functions. One such is that prohibiting discrimination on the race characteristic ensures that all persons can participate in social activities without feeling left out or discriminated against because of their skin color.
From a survey conducted most, people of African origin or black people indicated that most of them got low paying jobs that they were overqualified for. This is because the employment they do hardly corresponds to their education level. Basically, they were denied better-paying jobs not because they were under-qualified but because of their skin color. Most of them perform manual works that require a lot of physical effort. This is an example of discrimination based on racial grounds that the Equality Act of 2010 seeks to do away with.
Cases dealing with any form of discrimination in the UK are determined by the Employment Tribunal and the Employment Appeals Tribunal for Appeals. The tribunal also determines cases relating to employment issues that are brought into Great Britain from abroad. This position was laid out in the Ravisy case.
Case law on dress code discrimination on religious background and philosophical belief in the workplace.
In Gray v Mulberry Company (Design) Ltd
This was an appeal case against a decision made by the Employment Appeal Tribunal. In the order, the tribunal had dismissed the claimant’s complaints based on discrimination on philosophical belief grounds or philosophical belief characteristics. The claimant was dismissed after she refused to sign a Copyright Agreement. The agreement was a condition for continued employment, and failure to sign the agreement meant the employee was perceived as a lack of willingness to work under the terms of the business. The claimant refused to sign the Agreement because of her philosophical belief because it is not only a moral right but a statutory right as well to own the copyright of her own output and her creative works. The court addressed the issues to be addressed whether the claimant’s belief amounted to the laid out requirement in section 10(2) of the Equality Act. The court was also required to determine whether the claimant was indirectly discriminated against based on her philosophical belief. The judges of the Employment Tribunal, as well as those of the Employment Appeal Tribunal, held that the claimant’s complaints did not fall under section 10 of the Equality Act.
Personal opinion on how the Judges addressed the issue in the given case.
Firstly, Section 10 is apparent on what should be considered when determining if an opinion or a belief qualifies to be termed as a philosophical belief or one that is religious. As it was earlier stated in this paper, the Equality Act outlined that an opinion can only be considered a philosophical belief; the person in question so seriously perceives it to affect the person’s nature. According to a case in point, my thoughts are as follows. First, the claimant’s refusal to sign the agreement qualifies as a philosophical belief. This is because it is not merely an opinion, but it is an opinion that significantly affects the individual’s life. The claimant knew that her job was at stake but still refused to sign the agreement. Additionally, concerning discrimination on religious background, the Equality Act states that an employee has a right to ask questions where he/she believes that something is not right in the business. The employee is protected under the Act from any form of harassment or punishment in the form of dismissal that might befall them. Therefore, the claimant was discriminated against due to her philosophical belief stand. The Employment Tribunal and the Employment Appeal Tribunal erred when they dismissed the claimant’s appeal. This is because she was legally exercising her right under section 10 of the Equality Act and Article 9 of the European Covenant on Human Rights.
In Henderson v GMB
Mr. Henderson worked as a regional organizer for GMB. He was dismissed, and the defendant’s employer cited gross misconduct as one reason that led to his dismissal. When confronted with this case, the Employment Tribunal ruled that the claimant had been fairly dismissed because he was becoming uncontrollable, and he kept insisting that there was a conspiracy between GMB and the Labour party.Further, the court noted that Mr. Henderson had been directly discriminated against and had suffered emotional torture, for which he ought to be compensated wholesomely by the defendant. The court added that the harassment he received from airing his left-wing socialist beliefs injured his feelings. The court also was clear to note that Mr. Henderson’s conduct was not the only thing that led to his dismissal from GMB. His political views also contributed to his dismissal. Therefore, the dismissal was discriminatory. Both the claimant and the defendant were unsatisfied with the decision, and they appealed to the Employment Appeals Tribunal. When giving the findings, Justice Simler found that the evidence produced was not sufficient to prove the existence of Mr. Henderson’s discrimination based on political grounds. Whereas he was dismissed purely on his conduct, which was proving to be uncomfortable, the dismissal’s decision-makers did not have in mind an objective to dismiss him on political grounds. Justice Simler added that a distinction had to be drawn between what acts amount to unlawful harassment and what do not. The line between the two is a very thin one. Whereas Mr. Henderson was shouted at, that did not result in unlawful harassment. It was merely an incident and not an environment, and it should be taken as such. The tribunal concluded that Mr. Henderson was fired but not due to his political views rather because of his conduct.
Personal opinion of the student on Henderson v GMB.
It is important always to draw a line between what amounts to unlawful harassment and what does not. The tribunal correctly identified and established the difference, further using the difference to give a ruling on the case. Whereas the majority of unfair acts are tantamount to discrimination, not all unlawful acts are discriminatory. Therefore, I support the ruling of the tribunal, especially the one given by Justice Simpler of the Employment Appeal Tribunal.
In Woods v Pasab and Another
The claimant was a Muslim who worked in a pharmacy. The managing directors of the pharmacy were Sikhs. One day, the claimant commented that the pharmacy was only a small Sikh club that only looked after Sikhs. Consequently, the comment led to her dismissal, and she proceeded to the Employment Tribunal, further arguing that she was unfairly dismissed. The claimant in her defense stated that her comment was not racist, and she did not intend to appear racist. It was proven that the comment had a certain degree of racism, and it depended on which perspective one was looking at it from. It was as if the claimant was simply implying that only Sikhs or their relatives received the pharmacy’s best care. This further implied the existence of direct discrimination in the pharmacy. The Appellate Tribunal looked at the circumstances of the case and held them as follows. That there was no complaint on discrimination based on religious grounds by the claimant and the Employment had erred in finding that such a claim existed. Regarding the claimant’s claims of unfair dismissal, the tribunal argued that the claimant was dismissed on unique grounds that did not necessarily have anything to do with the protected grounds. Therefore, she had not been discriminated against based on her religious background as this was also not raised when determining the case in the Appellate. Justice Hallett LJ dismissed the claimant’s assertion that in the absence of an express finding that the claimant had made a racist remark that was unlawful, the Employment Tribunal ought to have found that she had been dismissed of the violation of a protected act.
Personal opinion of the student on Woods v Pasab and Another
I cannot entirely agree with the Employment Appeal Tribunal’s decision, which basically affirmed the Employment Tribunal’s decision. The only difference was in terms of the logical consequences that arose from the two case instances. The employer, the Sikh Pharmacy had dismissed the claimant because she had commented on protected acts. Despite this having not been one of the issues for determination in the Appellate specifically, it can be adduced that it is the comment that escalated her dismissal. Her comment need not necessarily be racist or discriminatory, but the fact that she is from a different religious background from her employer makes the difference appear even bigger.
Case law on dress code discrimination based on the dress code in the workplace.
In Smith v Safeway plc
Smith worked in a supermarket where male and female employees were required to wear caps to work. Whereas female employees were allowed to clip back their hair, male employees could not grow their hair longer than the collar length. His employer had already provided a laid out a comprehensive dress code guideline. Mr. Smith refused to cut his hair and filed a case against his employer Safeway plc after dismissing discrimination on sexual grounds. He argued that if female employees were allowed to keep long hair at work, male workers should be allowed to do the same. Lack of this requirement thereof is sufficient to prove discrimination according to the claimant. The Employment Tribunal held that Mr. Smith was not discriminated against based on sexual grounds, more so in terms of his hair concerning his decision to cut his hair, not to cut it altogether. The tribunal had relied on an earlier case, the Schmidt casewhere it was held that the employer’s dress code guidelines, which prohibited women from wearing trousers to work, were not discriminatory. It was categorically stated that it was merely a conventional standard in business and it was unique for men and women. The employee (claimant) appealed the decision to the Employment Appeals Tribunal. The Appellate upheld the tribunal’s decision in its findings. The tribunal held that the claimant had been treated differently based on his sexual grounds but not sufficient to be termed as unjust. Whereas other forms of dress code only applied within the work hours, cutting the hair applied at all times was not only limited to the workplace. Therefore, because of the significant trouble that would be caused to the employee to retain his job, the court held that he had been treated differently. To determine to what extent he was treated differently, a test was established to determine whether conduct by the employer amounts to discrimination or not. For hair and body tattoos, the test was whether the restriction imposed was justified and whether it caused a detriment for one sex over the other. Additionally, the Appellate held that the employer’s rule was justified and did not cause any detriment to the employee.
Personal opinion of the student on the case
I agree with the tribunal on its decision, specifically on the test applied in gauging what discrimination is and what is not. What is justified and what is not. Some businesses have a specific convention or style. Mostly, the particular dress code has been practiced for so long that it has become the culture of the business. Therefore, a business that refuses to hire people specifically because of their dress code can be justified in certain instances where the test is applied.
Eweida and others v United Kingdom
In the case, the claimants Ms. Nadia Eweida and Ms. Shirley Chaplin filed cases against their respective employers because they had been discriminated against after they were prohibited from wearing a rosary and a cross respectively around their necks while at the workplace. The former worked as a check-in worker for British Airways, while the latter worked as a nurse at the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust. The Employment Tribunal dismissed Ms. Eweida’s claims of discrimination. As a matter of fact, the court added that the mere wearing of a cross was not mandatory to exercise the Christian faith. Therefore, her employer’s dress code rules were not discriminatory or unjust. Mr. Eweida appealed to the Employment Appeals tribunal, where the decision of the Employment Tribunal was upheld. In Ms. Chaplin’s case, the tribunal held that the claimant had not been directly discriminated against. The main goal or guiding principle that the Foundation Trust operated with was health and safety and had nothing to do with a religious background. Ms. Chaplin did not appeal since she was aware that Ms. Eweida had appealed and was yet again unsuccessful.
Personal opinion of the student on the case.
I agree with the decision of the tribunal. Other considerations must also be addressed regarding what should be worn at the workplace and what should not. Anyway, having a cross on one’s neck was not sufficient to prove religious attachment as it was outlined in the case.
Case law dealing with dress code discrimination based on racial grounds or (people of color).
Chandok and another Turkey
This was an appeal case in the Employment Appeals Tribunal. The claimant, Ms. Tirkey of Indian descent, worked as a domestic worker for the United Kingdom respondents. From the facts of the case, the respondents from India hired the claimant and were taken to work in the United Kingdom. Apparently, the claimant belongs to a caste in India that is believed to be destined to serve other people who have a high social status. It is indicated that it is a presumed fact that the respondents might have hired the claimant specifically for this reason. Therefore, it is evident that the claimant was vulnerable. After she landed in the UK, the employer confiscated her travel documents. She claimed that she was unfairly treated and discriminated against because of her religion and her racial background. Further, the claimant alluded that she was prohibited from going to church and was forced to sleep on the floor without her own room. The employer refused to give her a monthly salary and insisted on saving it for her in an account. The claimant believes that the respondent and his family had used part of her account savings unjustly. She sued her employer. The Employment Tribunal had earlier stated that caste was not a discriminatory ground listed in the Equality Act. Further, it insisted that caste was different from the racial background; therefore, the two cannot be interpreted to mean the same thing. However, the Appellate stated that the claimant had been discriminated against both on the racial ground and religious ground. Justice Langstaff indicated that section 9(1) of the Equality Act on racial grounds could also be applicable in this case if the claimant sufficiently proves that the circumstances relating to her case were either accurately or colloquially represented caste considerations. The claimant will therefore be successful if those grounds are sufficiently proven. The court concluded that the claimant had been discriminated against both on racial grounds and religious grounds.
Personal opinion on the case.
I am of a concurrence opinion with the judges in this case. The Equality Act was clearly established to prevent such cases of discrimination in the workplace. No person should be discriminated against because of their caste or their social status. All workers ought to be treated fairly and to be respected. Further, in terms of religious discrimination on the case, this paper has elsewhere covered that the European Covenant on Human Rights and the Equality Act prohibit discrimination on religious grounds, either belonging or not belonging to a particular religion.
Summary on whether the judges in the above applied the law correctly.
When cases are presented to the employment tribunal, there are certain expected outcomes. The outcomes include, the case may either be withdrawn or settled through the tribunal or privately. The case may also be decided by the tribunal in favor of the claimant, who is mainly the employee or the employer. Additionally, the case either be dismissed at the preliminary hearing or disposed of at any other particular time of hearing the case.
Wheneither party to the dispute is not satisfied with the tribunal’s decision, he/she is at liberty to appeal to the Employment Appeals Tribunal. Similarly, the appeal may either be dismissed or the decision of the Employment Tribunal upheld. The outcome differs from case to case basis as each case or dispute is unique in its own way. Cases dealing with employment have to balance between which of the two interests is the greater good. Firstly, all employers have a goal of making as much profit as they reasonably can. Similarly, employees have certain rights vested upon them by relevant legislation such as the Equality Act of 2010. The employment tribunal, therefore, must set a balance between the two interests. Having given examples of different cases and how the employment tribunal applied the Equality Act in determining the cases, I believe that the employment tribunal judges have tried to apply the law correctly. In furtherance of their duty to make clear determinations, the employment tribunal has also comprehensively outlined various tests that ought to be applied to determine whether an act amounts to discrimination or not. The tribunal’s efforts to improve efficiency and solve disputes that arise in workplaces cannot go unnoticed. Despite several challenges, the tribunal strives to offer the best services by solving disputes fairly between employers and employees.
A survey (SETA 2018) conducted indicated that most employees filed cases in the Employment tribunal on discrimination against the following listed characteristics. Age, having children, academic qualifications, marital status, the employees’ sexual identity, disability, religion, sex, and ethnicity. The employer’s prevalent characteristics were industry, whether the businesses were single or multi-owned organizations, sector, size of the workplace, and the workforce. The majority of the claimants who lodged complaints initially had permanent jobs. Also, the majority of them have a common occupation, which includes technical and professional occupations.
Academic experts’ opinion on Employment Tribunal’s interpretation of the Equality Act
Academic experts have argued elsewhere that Employment Tribunals have undergone some important series of changes; basically, they mean that there are a lot of differences that are adduced between the Employment Tribunal of the ’70s and the present-day Employment Tribunal. Initially, Employment Tribunals were referred to as Industrial Tribunals. They were not as efficient as they are currently. At one time, Otto Kahn, when considering employment relations in Britain, argued that trade unions were better equipped to handle employment-related disputes as opposed to the then Industrial Tribunals. In fact, Otto Kahn added that despite efforts being put in place to make tribunals more efficient, in no way could tribunals surpass trade unions. However, Kahn’s assertions were corrected when trade union membership reached over 3 million. Consequently, the unions could no longer handle cases as they used. At the same time, Tribunals had put tremendous efforts to enhance their operations and services offered regarding the settlement of employment disputes.
The new rights of workers introduced by the labor government also contributed to the rise and dominance of Employment tribunals. In adherence to European law, the labor government introduced rights such as the right to maternity, the right not to be discriminated against based on age, disability, gender, and other characterized grounds. As a result, disputes increased in workplaces, and trade unions could not handle all the disputes; thus, they ended up in the Employment Tribunals. Over the years, employment tribunals have become better and more efficient at handling employment-related disputes compared to courts. The tribunals were granted authorization to hear and determine cases through juridification. Juridification is the process of increasing the intervention of the law in employment cases. In terms of speed and expedition, the time taken between the filing of a claim and the claim’s determination is shorter than the time taken in court. Similarly, employment tribunals are easily accessible as there need not be a specific room such as a court to hear and determine disputes.
Other important highlights of employment tribunals include they are informal, and they are cheaper compared to courts. However, experts have argued that the present-day employment tribunals have evolved and are different from employment tribunals of the ’70s. Currently, filing and determination of employment disputes are not as easy as it was earlier. Arguably, more considerations have been added for the determination of cases which was not the case earlier. Judges also face some challenges when it comes to determining cases. There are some evident inconsistencies and failure to use the law as it should be duly. Some holdings prove to have lightly applied the relevant law, which is the Equality Act of 2010. This happens where the judges deviate either slightly or wholesomely from the intended interpretation in the Act.
Anti-racism campaigners on Employment Tribunal decisions
Anti-racism refers to the organization of different community members who come together intending to end discrimination based on the color of one’s skin. Anti-racism campaigners criticize hatred, systematic racism, bias, and also the oppression of persons based on their race. They campaign for equality of all individuals in all spheres, be it social, political, or even in the economic sphere. To facilitate their efforts to criticize discrimination and enhance equality, anti-racists have different institutions and organizations founded both nationally and internationally. The European Commission against Racism Intolerant, the World Conference against Racism are some examples of international organizations and institutions. On the other hand, the Anti-Nazi League, the Anti-Fascist Action are examples of national organizations dealing with the eradication of racism in the country.
Why are anti-racists concerned about the decisions of the judges?
One Anti-racist organization undertook a survey seeking to establish the extent of racism in the workplaces and how the victims handled the situation after reporting the matter to the Employment court. The victims targeted by the surveyors were mainly those from religious minorities and people of color. Additionally, regarding discrimination on the dress code, more women were reported to have faced discrimination at work compared to men. According to the survey, filing the case to the employment tribunal is normally the last option for most victims. Normally, it was indicated that the cases reported were not the first instances the victims faced discrimination. Rather, it was after the victims tolerated series of discrimination, thus being pushed to the wall. Anti-racists are concerned with the decisions of the judges because of the impact the decisions have in dealing with discrimination and, by extension, helping the organizations curb discrimination. It was noted from the survey that employees face harassment and punishment after reporting to their employers. As it has been argued earlier in this paper, dismissal is a form of punishment given to victims who initiate proceedings or complaints against their employers. The effect of this unjust treatment is that it stops other victims from coming out to call their employers because they are afraid of being punished and harassed in the process.
Particularly, anti-racist organizations and institutions are concerned with the outcomes of the cases taken to the employment tribunals regardless of the outcome. Claimants who are unsuccessful may lose the case due to certain factors such as lack of enough evidence and witnesses; most cannot afford to hire the services of a lawyer; therefore, they end up representing themselves. Most successful claimants are also not happy with the outcome despite the tribunal ruling in their favor. This is because the tribunals rarely give the claimants befitting compensation for the emotional injury the claimant was put through by the employer. The majority of them felt that they had been awarded a small amount of money compared to their suffering. On the same note, anti-racists must be concerned about these decisions because they affect not only the employee’s attitude but also that of the employer. Where strict measures are not put in place to prohibit discrimination, some employers may discriminate against some of their employees because the fine imposed by the judges of the tribunal is so low a fee that the employer is not affected when it is awarded to the employee.
The United Kingdom’s government takes on Employment Tribunal the judges’ decisions.
The Law Commission in the United Kingdom is an independent body set up to review the Law. The Law Commission on Employment Tribunals reviewed the jurisdiction of the tribunals and the shared powers between the tribunals and the civil courts. Essentially, the tribunal noted that tribunals could not deal with a wide variety of claims; hence claimants are required to bring their claims in two sets. The Law Commission gave several recommendations among the given recommendations include increasing the time required to bring claims to the tribunal from 3 months to 6 months. Secondly, the increase of employment tribunal powers so that claimants need not have left the employer before filing the complaint as that was the case. Thirdly, the commission suggested that the tribunal should also be allowed to hear and determine cases dealing with complaints of employees working hours. This was a case the tribunal did not have jurisdiction to listen to. Fourthly, judges who have served in the employment tribunal who heard and determined discrimination in the employment field should be promoted to national courts to determine other discrimination cases. Lastly, the commission recommended that the tribunal should be given the power to listen to breach in contract cases and to further award damages where there is proof of the breach.
The provisions of the Equality Act 2010 vis a vis the decisions of the Employment tribunal Judges.
In A v Minister of Defence the tribunal decided that the wording of the Equality Act under section15 could not include her claim of discrimination in relation to unfavorable treatment. The tribunal outlined that her claim was not well-grounded and could therefore not be categorized as a violation of section 15 by the employer.
The judges are trying their best to give the best interpretation of the Equality Act. However, on a few occasions, they are unable to give the best interpretation when they add some of their perceived interpretations about the law in point.
The language used in the judgments that seem to have gone wrong.
In Gray v Mulberry Company (Design) Ltd
This case had been brief earlier in this paper, and the main issue that arose was whether the claimant’s employer erred by dismissing her when she refused to sign the agreements presented to her. The claimant relied on section 10 of the Equality Act. The claimant stated that she had a right to be protected from discrimination based on her philosophical belief, according to section 10(2) of the Equality Act. The judges argued that her claims did not amount to philosophical beliefs; hence she could not rely on that provision for her protection. The language used by the judges in the determination of this case was wrong. The judges failed to appreciate the nature and the wording of the section. Therefore, they interpreted the provision in a manner that would have no alienation with the claimant’s claims, consequently locking her out, thus reduced her chances of succeeding against her employer.
From the extensive research carried out on this paper, it is evident that discrimination is still rampant in the country despite various efforts to do away with it completely. Similarly, the efforts of various organizations and institutions cannot go unnoticed. This paper has keenly delved into discrimination of religious minorities and people of color through dress codes. Discrimination has so many negative effects on an individual and to the society at large. All individuals, particularly employers, must strive to ensure all employees have a safe space in their workplaces.
Equality Act, 2010.
European Covenant on Human Rights, 1953.
A v Minister of Defence(2019) EW HC 2121(QB).
Chandok and Another v Tirkey(2014) UKEAT/0190/KN.
Eweida and others v United Kingdom (2013) ECHR.
Gray v Mulberry Company (Design) Ltd (2019) EWCA Civ 1720.
Henderson v GMB (2017) UKEAT’0294/16/LA.
Lawson v Schmitt Boulder Hill (2010) 924 N.E.2d 503.
Smith v Safeway plc (1996) IRLR 456, CA.
Colm O’Cinneide, Kimberly Liu, ‘Defining the limits of discrimination law in the United Kingdom: Principle and pragmatism in tension’ (2014) International Journal of Discrimination and the Law.
Peter Brandon Bayer, Mutable Characteristics, and the definition of discrimination under Title VII (1986).
Thomson Victoria, ‘How much of the Remaining Gender Pay Gap is the Result of Discrimination and How Much is due to Individual Choices’ (2006) 7(2) International Journal of Urban Labour and Leisure.
Peter Brandon Bayer, Mutable Characteristics, and the definition of discrimination under Title VII (1986).
 Colm O’Cinneide, Kimberly Liu, ‘Defining the limits of discrimination law in the United Kingdom: Principle and pragmatism in tension’ (2014) International Journal of Discrimination and the Law.
 Thomson Victoria, ‘How much of the Remaining Gender Pay Gap is the Result of Discrimination and How Much is due to Individual Choices’ (2006) 7(2)International Journal of Urban Labour and Leisure.
 Equality Act, 2010.
Gray v Mulberry Company (Design) Ltd (2019) EWCA Civ 1720.
Henderson v GMB (2017) UKEAT’0294/16/LA.
Woods v Pasab and Another(2012) EWCA Civ 1578.
Smith v Safeway plc (1996)IRLR 456, CA.
Lawson v Schmitt Boulder Hill (2010) 924 N.E.2d 503.
Eweida and others v United Kingdom (2013) ECHR.
Chandok and Another v Tirkey(2014) UKEAT/0190/KN.
A v Minister of Defence(2019) EW HC 2121(QB).
 n, 5.