Employees get go-ahead to seek injury to feelings compensation

Employers could face painful compensation claims after the Court of Appeal
cleared the way for unfairly dismissed employees to claim for injury to their
feelings.

The ruling will enable bullied employees who can prove genuine emotional
suffering to claim damages not only for loss of earnings but also for metal
anguish.

In Dunnachie v Kingston Upon Hull, judges ruled that a bullied council
worker was entitled to £10,000 from his employer for the personal suffering he
had endured.

Employment Lawyers Association vice-president Fraser Younson said the ruling
could have serious implications for organisations as many people will claim the
dismissal has caused such humiliation.

"The difficulties will come in how the tribunals apply this because
being dismissed can itself cause humiliation. This, along with the latest
changes to grievance procedures, will emphasise the need for employers to get
policies and procedures exactly right," he said.

The changes could particularly affect high-level dismissals that often occur
quickly and Younson urged firms to provide more training for managers and
increase awareness of the rules.

Jonathan Chamberlain of law firm Wragge & Co said the case could lead to
a flood of similar claims.

"This decision is bad news for employers and it overturns 30 years of
settled law. There will be more nuisance claims from employees who consider
their feelings have been hurt."

Christine Jenner, a partner at law firm Macfarlanes, warned that employers
must start to take bullying and harassment more seriously or risk a higher
level of claims.

The court pointed out that it would not apply in every case and would only
be suitable where there is a real injury to the employee’s feelings or
self-respect. It also granted leave for an appeal to the House of Lords.

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