The Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) has upheld what is thought to be the highest award for compensation for injury to feelings in a disability discrimination case.
In the case of The Prison Service v Beart, an employee was awarded £400,000 for her claim of disability discrimination under the Disability Discrimination Act, which has been judged an appropriate amount by the EAT.
Beverley Ensor, employment specialist at solicitors Dent, Raven and Marsdens, said this case served as a reminder for employers that awards for injury to feelings arising from any form of prohibited discrimination (sex, sexual orientation, religion, religious belief or disability) are not subject to any limitation.
“Although this case is clearly of the extreme end of what an employee could expect to recover, the fact that tribunals are prepared to award such sums shows just how seriously discrimination should be taken,” she said.
Ensor said employers should bear in mind the House of Lords decision in Archibald v Fife Council, which decided that in some situations, employers have a positive duty to treat disabled employees more favourably.
This obligation arises in relation to an employer’s duty to make reasonable adjustments to accommodate disabled staff.