Withholding bonus was discriminatory

Gus Home Shopping v Green and McLaughlin, unreported, September 2000, EAT

GHS introduced a discretionary loyalty bonus scheme when it moved its marketing department from Worcester to Manchester. Payment was conditional on the orderly transfer of the department, employees’ cooperation and the employee remaining in employment until an agreed date. McLaughlin was on maternity leave at the time of the transfer and received no payment. Green was on pregnancy-related sick leave and received a reduced payment. Both brought successful sex discrimination claims.

On appeal, the EAT considered whether the bonus scheme formed part of the employment contract and whether the women were entitled to payment. It held that the bonus scheme was "intimately linked" to the contract because employees were required to comply with their contractual terms and show goodwill during the transfer. Further, their absences were pregnancy-related and GHS had failed to recognise the special status given to female employees in those circumstances. Withholding the bonus constituted direct sex discrimination.

Suspension was unreasonable

Gogay v Hertfordshire County Council, October 2000, IRLR,

Court of Appeal

L was a resident at the children’s home where Gogay worked. She developed an obsession with Gogay and during a therapy session made remarks about her which caused the council to suspend Gogay pending an investigation. Gogay was reinstated after the investigation concluded no abuse had occurred.

By then, Gogay was suffering from reactive depression and unable to return to work. She claimed damages for loss of earnings and personal injury. The High Court held that the council breached the implied term of trust and confidence because it had no reasonable grounds for suspension and had failed to carry out a proper investigation before doing so. It awarded Gogay £26,000, including £5,000 for private psychotherapy.

The council unsuccessfully appealed and Gogay successfully cross-appealed, arguing damages should be increased because, pending the appeal, no damages had been paid, no psychotherapy commenced and her return to work delayed. The Court of Appeal held there were no reasonable grounds for suspending Gogay and alternatives such as a transfer to other work or arranging a period of leave should have been considered. It awarded Gogay an additional £13,000.

Comments are closed.