Case roundup

This week’s case roundup

Interview process was
discriminatory

Anya v University of
Oxford and another, unreported March 2001 Court of Appeal

Anya, a black
Nigerian, was one of 26 candidates who applied for the position of postdoctoral
research assistant. Only two candidates were short-listed for interview, Anya
and Lawrence. The position was offered to Lawrence, who was white. Anya’s claim
of race discrimination was dismissed by the tribunal. It held that he had been
treated less favourably in not being appointed, but the reason for this was
unconnected with his race. The EAT upheld that decision.

The Court of Appeal
held that the tribunal had not made sufficient enquiries of the university and
had simply accepted the evidence of the university’s main witness. It had made
no enquiries about inconsistent documentation, established why the university’s
interview policy was not followed nor investigated Anya’s allegations that he
had been sidelined when doing his research work. Accordingly, the tribunal had
failed to make sufficient findings of fact to enable it to draw the inference
that the less favourable treatment was unconnected with Anya’s race.

What are the terms of
employment?

Lovett v Wigan
Metropolitan Borough Council, IDS Brief 680

The terms and
conditions of Lovett’s employment were discussed at his interview and subsequently
confirmed by letter. The letter stated that progression beyond salary scale 6
was conditional on "gaining appropriate qualifications and
experience" and conditions agreed by the National Joint Council for Local
Authorities would apply. Three months after starting work the council provided
Lovett with a written statement of particulars of employment to which was
annexed a document  called
"Proposed Career Grade Structure" which stated progression beyond
scale 6 was also conditional on "the needs of the department". Lovett
signed the written statement "to confirm receipt". Lovett complained
about not progressing up the salary scales and following his dismissal brought
unsuccessful claims for unfair dismissal, breach of contract and fraudulent
misrepresentation.

The tribunal held that
salary beyond scale 6 would only be paid if all three qualifying conditions
were met because the written statement and PCGS document had been incorporated
in the contract. On appeal the EAT held that the contractual terms were only
those discussed at the interview and contained in the letter (which included
the NJC conditions). It also held the tribunal could consider the PCGS document
to clarify what was "appropriate experience". Lovett went to the
Court of Appeal, which held that the written statement (and therefore the PCGS
document) did not form part of the contract and was simply provided to comply
with the statutory obligation pursuant to the Employment Rights Act 1996.
Lovett’s signed receipt of the written statement did not signify his acceptance
of the terms of it.

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