Discrimination payouts soar as disability laws begin to bite

UK employers paid out £6.2m in discrimination compensation last year – the most on record, according to new research from Personnel Today’s sister publication Equal Opportunities Review (EOR).

Although there were slightly fewer awards for sex, race and disability discrimination in the workplace overall, 2004 proved costly for employers, with a general upwards trend in the amount tribunals were prepared to award in all three areas.

Awards in 368 cases totalled £6.2m, a substantial rise from the previous year, when awards across all three areas totalled £4.3m.

Compensation awards in disability discrimination claims saw the biggest increase and although they have been gradually increasing since the Disability Discrimination Act came onto the statute books in 1995, the jump of 89% between 2003 and 2004 was the biggest yet.

EOR editor Sue Johnstone said: “Disability discrimination legislation is really beginning to bite and, judging by the awards that Employment Tribunals are making, they are looking sympathetically at future loss of earnings.

“Tribunals are also awarding more for injury to feeling, recognising the seriousness of disability discrimination and the devastating effect it can have on individuals, on their confidence at work and their future employment.”

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