Case roundup

This week’s case roundup

No double recovery of compensation
HM Prison Service v Salmon, IRLR 425, EAT

Salmon was one of only three women prison officers of 120 at Canterbury
prison where her male colleagues openly read pornographic magazines and engaged
in unacceptable sexual banter. This humiliating environment culminated in an
incident in 1996 when offensive comments were written about Salmon in a dock
book which resulted in Salmon suffering moderately severe depression and her
retirement on medical grounds.

Salmon brought a successful sex discrimination claim and was awarded £15,000
for psychiatric injury (reduced by 25 per cent because of a pre-existing
vulnerability), £21,000 for injury to feelings which included £5,000 aggravated
damages, and around £45,000 for loss of earnings. The Prison Service
unsuccessfully appealed against the assessment of compensation.

The EAT held £15,000 was within the range of possible awards for Salmon’s
psychiatric illness and the reduction of 25 per cent was appropriate. The fact
that the Prison Service viewed the officers’ behaviour as trivial justified the
award of aggravated damages. More particularly, the EAT also held that in this
instance there was no overlap and double recovery in relation to the awards for
psychiatric injury and injury to feelings, although tribunals should exercise
care when making separate awards under these two distinct heads so as not to
compensate twice.

No right to Millennium holiday
Campbell and Smith Construction Group v Greenwood, IRLB 667, EAT

Greenwood’s contract entitled him to winter holidays of seven working days,
plus Christmas, Boxing and New Year’s day but it specified that one of the
seven working days had to be taken on 31 December. In 1999 that day was declared
a public holiday to celebrate the Millennium but Greenwood’s contract remained
unchanged.

Greenwood claimed holiday pay for 24 December (not an agreed holiday) in
lieu of 31 December on the basis that the contractual provisions did not take
into account the new public holiday and argued that failure to make the payment
amounted to an unlawful deduction of wages. The tribunal agreed and held that
once 31 December became a public holiday it ceased being a working day and so
another working day had to be added to Greenwood’s winter holidays.

Campbell successfully appealed and the EAT held that an employer’s
obligations and an employee’s rights relating to bank/public holidays are
regulated solely by the contract. A working day could not, without a contractual
change, become a non-working day simply because it became a bank/public
holiday.

Comments are closed.