Dual discrimination claims will lead to 10% rise in new cases

Dual discrimination claims will lead to at least a 10% influx of new cases clogging up an already overflowing tribunals system, HR chiefs have warned.

The government tabled an amendment to the Equality Bill last week to allow people to claim discrimination caused by a combination of two characteristics, such as black and female. Currently, people can only bring one claim. A discussion document on the proposed clause published by the Government Equalities Office revealed dual discrimination claims could lead to 3,350 more claims being brought per year.

But employment lawyers told Personnel Today the move would lead to higher success rates – and higher payouts – as workers added extra claims to strengthen their cases. This could encourage more ‘no-win no-fee’ lawyers to bring even more cases, according to HR practitioners.

Steve Mason, a former HR director at Bedfordshire and Luton Fire Service and managing director of consultancy Real World HR, said: “If payouts are bigger, there is more incentive for no-win no-fee lawyers to take them on. Areas such as London and Manchester, where there is a prevalence of these lawyers, could see a substantial rise.”

Denise Bradley, HR manager at food distributor Health Store, added that the clause would increase the workload for HR. “The paperwork for tribunal cases is very substantial and to do it for dual claims must be more. I would have thought this would slow down tribunals.”

The rise in cases and their success rate could also cause HR to become more cautious about the recruitment and performance management of minority groups, according to Francesca Okosi-Arimah, director of support services at East Thames Housing Association.

She said: “Employers could think twice if they are faced with two or three candidates and could make a judgement based on avoiding potential future legal claims.”

However, Dianah Worman, diversity adviser at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, said it was better for employers that claims were cleared up quickly in just one big case.

The Government Equalities Office was unavailable for comment on the proposed clause in the Bill, which is still in committee stage.

Dual discrimination

  • 2,500 of the 33,500 discrimination claims brought per year in the three years to 2008 would have been brought as dual discrimination claims if there was provision for this.
  • Dual discrimination claims are already law in Ireland, and over the past three years 7.5% of discrimination cases per year were brought under this provision.

Source: Government Equalities Office

LibDem equality minister to fight for ‘nameless CV’ proposal

Liberal Democrat equality spokeswoman Lynne Featherstone will fight for her nameless CV proposal to return now that it has been withdrawn from the Equality Bill, Personnel Today has learned.

The idea was rubbished by HR directors earlier this month and subsequently omitted from the Bill. But days later, a Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) ‘bogus CV’ exercise revealed some employers appeared to discriminate against foreign-sounding names.

Featherstone said she planned to re-enter the proposal at the Bill’s report stage, expected later this month.

“I was convinced this [anonymous applications] should be put into practice, and was relieved when I heard the DWP was doing the work to try to prove this theory. The initial findings have shown significant evidence,” she said.

The full results of the DWP exercise, which saw around 3,000 bogus applications sent out to advertising employers, are yet to be published.

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