Case round up

This
week’s case roundup…

Employee
unable to pursue discrimination claim
Relaxion Group v Rhys-Harper, IDS Brief 667 EAT

At
the appeal against her dismissal, Rhys-Harper made a complaint of sexual
harassment against her manager. Both the appeal and complaint were rejected.

Her
sex discrimination claim centred on an allegation that Relaxion had failed to
properly investigate her complaint. The tribunal held it had jurisdiction
taking into account the ECJ and EAT decisions in Coote v Granada Hospitality
which extended the scope of the Sex Discrimination Act by enabling a former
employee to pursue a victimisation claim relating to acts which occurred after
employment had ended.

Relaxion
successfully appealed. It argued that the failure to investigate the harassment
complaint, the act of discrimination, post-dated the dismissal and the SDA and
Coote covered only post-employment victimisation. The EAT agreed. Coote should
be interpreted narrowly and applied only to cases of post-employment
victimisation. Leave to appeal was given.

Awareness
of investigation necessary
London Borough of Ealing v Garry, IRLB 656, EAT

Garry,
a Nigerian, was the council’s housing benefits manager. After learning she had
been investigated by her previous employer for suspected housing benefit fraud
and soon after dismissing another Nigerian employee for a similar reason, the
council appointed Singh, a "special" investigator to look into the
case concerning Garry.

In
March 1997 Singh concluded Garry had been involved in a fraudulent claim but
Garry only learned she had been under investigation in May. The next month she
met the auditors and in August the council concluded there was insufficient
evidence to start disciplinary proceedings. It omitted to tell Garry or Singh
of this and he continued with his investigations, albeit limited to a few
further phone calls. Only in July 1998 was Garry told no further action would
be taken.

She
brought a successful race discrimination claim. The tribunal held that
stereotypical assumptions had been made about Garry being a Nigerian and this
was why a "special" rather than ordinary investigator had been
appointed. Further, Garry had been subjected to a detriment by the ongoing
investigation even though she had been unaware of it. The council successfully
appealed. Although the tribunal had been entitled to infer the reason for
Singh’s appointment was Garry’s race she had not suffered any detriment because
her lack of awareness of the ongoing investigation had not caused her any
actual disadvantage.

By
Eversheds

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