Rihal v Ealing London Borough Council, Court of Appeal, 21 May 2004

Broad approach for discrimination: Rihal, a Sikh of Indian origin, was a senior surveyor with the council. During his employment, he witnessed many organisational changes but, in terms of his own career development, failed to achieve the promotions he sought.

In some cases, these positions were filled with less qualified, white candidates, prompting him to raise an internal grievance and start tribunal proceedings alleging race discrimination. The employment tribunal upheld his complaint.

The council appealed, alleging that the tribunal’s approach had been too general, looking at matters beyond those of which Rihal had specifically complained. The EAT rejected that argument, upholding the tribunal’s decision.

The council appealed to the Court of Appeal, but it was dismissed. In the context of allegations of discrimination, the preferred approach for tribunals is to look at the wider employment picture, rather than simply focus on individual complaints, which might give a distorted picture of events.

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