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Liability of individuals in discrimination claims

Liability of individuals in discrimination claims

Elizabeth McGlone, Partner at didlaw represented Ms Baldwin in her Employment Appeal Tribunal claims against Cleves School.  The judgment can be found here

The appeal was multi-faceted and follows nearly a decade of litigation for the Claimant who issued her claims in 2015. The original claims pursued were for disability discrimination against the School and also two individual employees with whom she worked. 

The School was found liable for discrimination but the Tribunal went on to conclude that the individuals should not be held responsible for disability-related harassment in of themselves as it was considered their conduct was simply an attempt to deal with complex circumstances.

The Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) did not agree and corrected the Tribunal’s finding to hold that the individuals were liable for disability discrimination. An employee would not be liable personally for discriminatory conduct where the employer has been held responsible and the individual has been told that the act they committed was lawful and they reasonably believed this to be true. This is a question of fact. The exception did not apply here.

The Tribunal had found that the individuals’ actions amount to disability discrimination in the course of employment. The School, as the employer, was liable for this conduct by virtue of vicarious liability. There was no discretion to reconsider the conduct as it had already found it to be discriminatory. Anyone in a position of responsibility needs to be aware that when committing discriminatory acts they can be personally liable (i.e. be pursued separately from the employer). This is dealt with in sections 109 to 112 of the Equality Act 2010

Elizabeth McGlone worked alongside Counsel Courtney Step-Marsden of Outer Temple to achieve a favourable outcome for the Claimant in this appeal.

After a decade of litigation the Claimant finally considers she can move on with her life.