Slump blamed on introduction of employment tribunal fees of up to £1,200
A new study has revealed that the number of employees taking claims out for discrimination or unfair dismissal to employment tribunals, has fallen by 73% since the introduction of charges were put in place.
According to the Trades Union Congress (TUC), there’s been a massive reduction in cases of discrimination; on grounds of sex (71%), race (58%) and disability (54%), since the introduction of charges of up to £1,200.
In 2012-13, the number of employees taking claims to an employment tribunal was around 16,000 per month, falling drastically to just 7,000 over the past year.
Frances O’Grady, TUC general secretary, said: “These figures show a huge drop in workers seeking justice when they’ve been unfairly treated. Now bosses know they can get away with it, discrimination at work can flourish unchecked and people can be sacked without good reason.”
Ms O’Grady added that the evidence was in front of all of us. Fees of up to £1,200, for all workers, not matter what they earn, meant that many employees were being priced out of taking their case to a tribunal.
She said that employment tribunal fees should be abolished, so that workers treated unfairly by their employers can take them to court.
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Public outcry as BBC accepts only ethnic minority applications for internship
The BBC is facing criticism after advertising for an internship position for which only “black, Asian and non-white ethnic minority” applicants would be considered, despite the BBC already employing an ethnically diverse workforce which meets the required representation as set out by the UK government.
The BBC, funded by UK taxpayers, has been accused of “positive discrimination in the workplace”, as according to the BBC’s own Diversity and Inclusion Strategy report for 2016 – 2020, the corporation is already employing 13.4 per cent black, Asian and ethnic minority employees, which is “above the census and workforce ratios”.
Critics have expressed their disapproval and have questioned why the BBC needs to employ an “under-represented” employee to the exclusion of white people when the workforce ratio is already in favour of ethnic minorities compared with the population ratios.
The BBC internship was posted online by employment agency Creative Access, which focuses on finding internships for black, Asian and ethnic minorities.
Omer Simjee, an employment law specialist at Irwin Mitchell LLP, said that, under the Equality Act 2010, a white person could take the matter to an Employment Tribunal, but that the job advertisement could also be considered a “potentially legitimate form of positive discrimination”.
In response to the criticism, a BBC spokesperson said that, although the corporation’s workforce “reflects the population of the country”, some “people from BAME backgrounds are under-represented in a number of crucial areas”.
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A specialist judge and university professor call for new legislation to protect larger workers
A British judge specialising in employment law has called for the end of discrimination against larger people in the workplace.
Judge Philip Rostant published a piece in the Modern Law Review journal describing the challenges faced by larger people who suffer from prejudice on a daily basis. He called for a new law to be introduced which would enable workers with a larger figure to more easily sue any colleagues who insult them because of their weight.
The academic paper, co-written with Sheffield University professor of law, Tamara Hervey, reminds readers of the Equality Act of 2010, which protects workers who suffer discrimination because of their race, gender, age, disability, sexual orientation, and religion, but not workers who suffer at work because of their weight.
The paper, titled ‘All About that Bass? Is Non‐Ideal Weight Discrimination Unlawful in the UK?’, states: “This situation leaves a gap in the law, which is remediable only by legislative reform.”
The new legislation should offer protection to workers of a “non-ideal weight”, who find themselves prejudiced against in their workplace and when applying for a new position, claim Judge Rostant and Professor Hervey.
According to the authors, larger people are often denied a job position due solely to their weight and also receive less pay on average than their thinner counterparts. This is often due to an employer’s “attitudinal assumptions” that larger people “are insufficiently self-motivated to make good employees”.
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Tribunal finds Starbucks guilty of discrimination and victimisation
A Starbucks employee has won her discrimination case in the first of its kind after an employment tribunal found she had been discriminated against by her employer on account of her dyslexia.
Meseret Kumulchew took her case before an employment tribunal after the managers at the Starbucks coffee shop, in which she worked as a supervisor, accused her of falsifying company documents; Ms Kumulchew was demoted from supervisor to general barista and said that the demotion caused her to consider suicide.
Ms Kumulchew told the tribunal how she has explained to her managers on multiple occasions that she suffered from dyslexia (a disability as defined by Equality Act 2010) which was why she occasionally made mistakes on documents.
The tribunal found that, not only had Starbucks failed in its responsibility to accommodate Ms Kumulchew’s disability in her workplace to a reasonable degree, but they had also victimised and discriminated against her. A hearing is to take place in which a tribunal will decide whether Ms Kumulchew should receive compensation from her employer.
Ruth Badrick, of Brahams Dutt Badrick French LLP, an employment law specialist, told The Telegraph: “It is possible that companies like Starbucks could be hit by a deluge of claims from people with dyslexia. It is a reminder that employers need to be very cautious.”
An expert in equality law has said that it has been a “very embarrassing” case for Starbucks and that they should consider carrying out a detailed review its discrimination policies if they are to recover from the “reputational damage”.
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