UK: Perceived religious discrimination/racial harassment – injury to feelings and aggravated damages
Mr Shunmugaraja, a Hindu, was employed by the Royal Mail Group for over 10 years, and worked as a Work Area Manager. He was called a “sly dog” by a colleague in front of his line manager who took no further action against the colleague. Another colleague reacted aggressively to Mr Shunmugaraja using a quiet room, which a Christian colleague used for praying, as a meeting room. He mistook Mr Shunmugaraja for a Muslim and said he would not have used the Muslim prayer room as a meeting room.
After Mr Shunmugaraja took time off work because of anxiety, a manager threatened to stop his sick pay. He was eventually dismissed. Although he applied for dozens of jobs, he could not find work and as a result, he became homeless.
The tribunal found that the Royal Mail’s actions amounted to harassment because of Mr Shunmugaraja’s race, to discrimination because of his perceived religion, and to victimisation. He was awarded £229,000, of which £27,000 was for injury to feelings, including aggravated damages of £7,000, in respect of all acts of discrimination and victimisation.
Since April 2020 the “Vento” bands for injury to feelings awards have been:
- Lower band: £900 – £9,000 – for less serious cases, such as where there is an isolated act of discrimination
- Middle band: £9,000 – £27,000 – for serious cases which do not merit an award in the upper band
- Upper band: £27,000 – £45,000 – for the most serious cases, such as where there has been a lengthy campaign of sexual or racial harassment – although it is possible for tribunals to award in excess of £45,000 in exceptional cases
Tribunals are not bound by these guidelines but must take them into account when making an award.
For more information on these articles or any other issues involving labour and employment matters in the United Kingdom, please contact Robert Hill (Partner) at Clyde & Co at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.clydeco.com.