Discrimination awards leap by 10 per cent

Employers
are counting the cost of unlawful discrimination, with a total of £3.88 million
awarded by employment tribunals in 2001, according to research published today
by IRS Equal Opportunities Review. 

This
represents an increase of 10 per cent from last year’s total of £3.53
million.  Once interest is factored in,
the figure rises to just over £4m.  This
includes a record award of £278,801 for disability discrimination.

The
figures are taken from an annual survey conducted by IRS Equal Opportunities
Review, which examined all 329 discrimination cases where compensation was
awarded in 2001.  

The
average award in disability cases has increased by 85 per cent from the
previous year (the median rose by 39 per cent).

The
median award in sex discrimination claims also showed an increase in 2001. One
reason has been higher awards of injury to feelings in sexual harassment cases.

In
2001, several awards were also made against individual employees who either
discriminated against colleagues or managers who failed to stop discrimination
in the workplace.

Equal
Opportunities Review acting editor, Kate Godwin said: “Employers across all
sectors should not allow themselves to be lulled into a false sense of security
when it comes to discrimination.

"Although
the overall increase for compensation awards is 10 per cent compared with last
year’s rise of 38 per cent, this is still concrete evidence of the mounting
costs to employers who continue to discriminate unlawfully.

"We
have seen a massive rise – 85 per cent – of compensation awards made in cases
of disability discrimination so employment tribunals are not afraid to send out
warning signals."

According
to Godwin, compensation awards have continued to increase overall for 10 years
and the trend is likely to continue as specific awards made to date in 2002
have already exceeded past record highs.

The
highest awards and number of awards for each jurisdiction in 2001 were:

Disability
Discrimination (56 cases)

·           Compensation – £278,801, Newsome v
The Council of the City of Sunderland

·           Injury to Feelings (including
aggravated damages) – £24,000, Parsons v Deltron Components Ltd

Race
Discrimination (85 cases)

·           Compensation – £63,069, Jarrett v
Dataphone (UK) Ltd

·           Injury to Feelings (including
aggravated damages) – £17,500, Jarrett v Dataphone (UK) Ltd

Sex
Discrimination (188 cases)

·           Compensation – £190,663 Shepherd v
Bentwood Bros (Manchester) Ltd

·           Injury
to feelings –  £40,000 Cotterill and
Westmoreland v (1) Millennium Air Products Ltd, (2) Majestic Enterprises UK
Ltd, (3) Kevin Robinson, (4) Malcolm Billing, (5) Craig Russell, (6) Lindsey
Broderick.

By Ben Willmott

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