In the case of Secretary of State for Justice v Plaistow the Employment Appeal Tribunal has demonstrated the potential financial downside to employers of getting it wrong. In this case the Claimant was a prison officer who suffered direct discrimination. He was subject to harassment relating to his sexual orientation or perceived sexual orientation. This included physical and verbal abuse and people asking him directly about his sexuality.
He won his claim for discrimination. The relevant medical evidence was to the effect that as a result of the discrimination the former officer had suffered PTSD, depression and symptoms of paranoia. The Tribunal took the view that the injury was likely to be permanent and that the former employee was unlikely to be able to return to work before retirement age. It took the view that but for the discrimination the employee was likely to have continued his employment until retirement age. On the main point the Employment Appeal Tribunal agreed with the original Tribunal and decided that the decision to award lifelong financial losses was appropriate.
Employers be warned – in cases of discrimination where the impact upon the employee is severe the award level can be eye-watering.
The better news is that this is a very rare case and most awards are far, far lower.