Test your knowledge

1The courts refused to hear the sex discrimination claim of a female associate of the Church of Scotland because:
a) At the preliminary hearing she maintained that her legal representative was God
b) She was a vexatious litigant
c) Her employer is God
d) She requested that the tribunal assemble in church

2A German employer fed up with the ‘whining of her fellow countrymen’ has introduced:
a) A ‘two moans and you’re out’ policy
b) A ‘silence in the workplace’ policy
c) Free beer in the workplace after 5pm
d) An on-site counsellor

3A mortuary technician was unfairly dismissed after she developed a morbid fear of:
a) Enclosed spaces
b) The dark
c) Ghosts
d) Death

4 An apprentice plumber claimed sex discrimination after his employer:
a) Insisted on several occasions that the apprentice accompany him to a lap dancing club
b) Beat him with an ‘apprentice correction stick’
c) Insisted that the apprentice purchase ‘top shelf’ magazines for him
d) Refused to let him wear a coat over his overalls in winter

5 The Civil Partnership Act 2004 came into force on 5 December 2005. The Act will give statutory rights and obligations analogous to those conferred by marriage to:
a) Unmarried heterosexual couples
b) Same-sex couples
c) Unmarried heterosexual couples and same-sex couples

6Which of the following do employees believe reduces productivity in the workplace?
a) Being overweight and having a poor diet
b) Internet chat rooms
c) E-mail banter between colleagues
d) Major sporting events

7In June this year Acas encouraged employers to beat skills shortages by:
a) Employing older workers
b) Employing younger workers
c) Introducing more training programmes
d) Encouraging job sharing

8Who said: “Bosses pick up their own kind – white, male, middle class.”?
a) David Dimbleby
b) Trevor Macdonald
c) Jeremy Paxman
d) Michael Buerk

9A train driver was awarded damages for psychological injury after:
a) The brakes on his train failed
b) He was attacked by an irate commuter
c) His train struck and killed a goat
d) He suffered a campaign of practical jokes at the hands of a ticket collector

10An airline masseuse was awarded £109,000 in compensation because:
a) She broke her arm during turbulence
b) She developed a fear of flying which led to her dismissal
c) She developed Repetitive Strain Injury
d) She was sexually harassed by an air steward

11A tribunal rejected a claim from an employee that she was refused trade union membership because of her political views. She belonged to:
a) The British National Party
b) The UK Independence Party
c) The Monster Raving Loony Party
d) The Conservative Party

12An employee in a bookstore was sacked for ‘gross misconduct’ and ‘bringing his company into disrepute’ because of:
a) His in-store book reviews
b) His blog
c) His first novel
d) Comments he made on local radio


1) c – Helen Percy was suspended from her job when, as a single woman, she was accused of having sex with a married Church elder. She resigned and alleged that she had been discriminated against because the kirk had “not taken similar action against male ministers who are known to have had/are still having extra marital sexual relationships”. The Church of Scotland Act 1921 says that the church receives from “the Lord Jesus Christ, its Divine King and Head” the right and power “subject to no civil authority to legislate, and to adjudicate finally, in all matters of doctrine, worship and government, and discipline in the Church, including the right to determine all questions concerning membership and office in the Church.” The House of Lords is to determine who Percy’s employer is.

2) a – Employees of Nutzwerk now have a clause in their contracts which states that “moaning and whingeing is forbiddenexcept when accompanied by a constructive question as to how to improve the situation.” So far three employees have been dismissed as a result of the policy and the employer claims that its turnover has doubled as a result.

3) d – Mrs Capener was awarded 15,000 in compensation for unfair dismissal, damages and injury to her feelings and loss of statutory rights. Capener had worked in the same mortuary for 21 years, which left her with symptoms of clinical depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. She was signed off sick in January 2004. Because her employer failed to redeploy her and because her illness prevented her from returning to work, she was effectively dismissed.

4) b – The employee argued at the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) that the employer had treated him less favourably than a hypothetical female apprentice since the employer had admitted in evidence that, bar a clip round the ear, he would not hit a woman or treat a woman in the same way as the employee alleged he had been treated. The EAT found that the employee had been discriminated against on the grounds of sex.

5) b – For the time being, unmarried heterosexual couples will be left with marriage as the only way for their relationship to secure legal recognition. Same-sex couples, on the other hand, will be able to secure legal recognition through registering their partnerships. Civil partners will be entitled to access employment benefits, including pensions. Employers must also ensure that civil partners are not subject to any discrimination by reason of sexual orientation.

6) a – Research carried out by health charity Developing Patient Partnerships (DPP) showed 56% of Scots thought a person’s weight could affect their work. Launching the ‘Working your way to a fitter day’ campaign, the DPP said people should have access to advice on how to manage their diet and activity levels both inside and out of the workplace.

7) a – In June 2005, Acas launched its advisory leaflet Employing Older Workers. Acas area director, Peter Harwood, said: “The working population is getting older and employers may face skills shortages when existing workers retire if they fail to ensure they don’t discriminate against older workers when recruiting.” There are currently 20 million people aged 50 and over in the UK and by 2030 this is expected to reach 27 million.

8) d – One-third of boardrooms in the UK’s top 100 companies are made up entirely of men.

9) c – The train driver received £35,000 as compensation for the shock and trauma and subsequent loss of pension. Railtrack (now Network Rail) admitted liability for the incident caused by broken fencing between Weymouth and Waterloo.

10) c – Elizabeth King sued Virgin Atlantic when she had to give up her £19,000 a year post at Heathrow airport because she had developed RSI through giving passengers massages. A doctor commented that he believed the RSI was caused by the large number of shiatsu massages and the abnormal position her clients were in when she performed them. The court ordered Virgin Atlantic to pay compensation for loss of earnings, pain and suffering.

11) a – A member of the far-right BNP was a shop steward for the bakers’ union, the BFAWU, at Harvestime in Leicester. After her BNP membership emerged she resigned and attempted to sabotage the workings of the local branch of the union. She was not re-admitted. In November 2004, she lodged a tribunal application, claiming that the union had broken the law in refusing her membership on the grounds of her membership of a political party. The tribunal ruled that her application was out of time and also that re-admittance had not been refused because of her membership of the BNP, but because of the threat of interfering with the workings of the branch and the union by encouraging others to resign.

12) b – Joe Gordon had worked at the Edinburgh branch of the bookstore Waterstone’s for 11 years. He was ‘dooced’ (web language for a dismissal resulting from the contents of a weblog) because of the comments he posted in relation to Waterstone’s on his weblog. With more than five million people around the world posting diaries of this kind, the Employment Lawyers Association advised in January 2005 that employers should have specific policies on what employees can say about them in weblogs.

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