Case roundup

This week’s case roundup

Condition for part-time working discriminatory
Chief Constable for Avon & Somerset Constabulary v Chew, EAT, IDS
Brief 701

In August 1994 the Avon & Somerset Constabulary introduced a part-time
working policy and officers wishing to work part-time had to conform with
specified regional and departmental shift patterns.

Chew’s request for part-time working was turned down as she was unable to
comply with the policy requirements and shift patterns because of looking after
her two children.

She brought a claim of indirect sex discrimination on the basis that the
need to comply with the shift patterns was a condition with which fewer women
than men could comply. Of the 3,000 officers in that constabulary to whom the
condition applied, 435 were women and of the 11 officers who could not comply,
all but one were women.

Statistically, however, this was a percentage difference between men and
women of just 2.26 per cent.

Nevertheless, the tribunal adopted a flexible approach and specifically took
into account the fact that the majority of officers who could not comply with
the condition were women with childcare responsibilities. Chew’s claim was
allowed.

On appeal, the EAT accepted the percentage difference of 2.26 per cent did
not, on the face of it, amount to a sufficiently disparate effect. However, the
tribunal was correct to adopt a flexible approach and to have regard to factors
other than the percentage difference.

Compensatory award not too low
Oderinde v Datapact Ltd EAT, unreported January 2002

Oderinde was accused of stealing software from Datapact after she was seen
acting suspiciously on a CCTV video recording.

She was summoned to an interview with two hours notice and not given a
chance to see the video or any statements given to the company during its
investigation.

Following her dismissal, she brought a successful unfair dismissal claim but
the tribunal awarded her only six weeks pay (around £1,800) on the basis she
would have been dismissed fairly at the end of that time. She appealed.

The EAT held that where a person had been unfairly dismissed following an
unsatisfactory disciplinary procedure, it was open to the employer to show that
the outcome would have been the same if a proper procedure had been adopted and
that the ensuing dismissal would have been fair.

Accordingly, the compensation should reflect this. While such evidence from
the employer would necessitate extremely close scrutiny (because of the
likelihood that it would be self-serving) it was not impossible for such
evidence to be given and accepted.

The appeal was dismissed.

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