Discrimination awards in UK reach record highs

Employment tribunals in the UK have awarded a record £3.53 million in compensation in unlawful discrimination cases in 2000.

According to the latest figures, this represents an increase of 38 per cent on the total payouts made in the previous year.

In what is described as a “wake-up call” for UK employers, record payments included a payout of £127,000 for “injury to feelings” in a case of unlawful race discrimination. The average awards in race and disability cases were higher than previous years but were slightly lower in sex discrimination cases.

The annual survey conducted by IRS Equal Opportunities Review, reviewed 316 discrimination cases where compensation was awarded in 2000. The results, often used by lawyers as a key benchmark in employment tribunal cases, indicate that figures will continue to rise.

The highest compensation awards in the period examined by the report were:

  • Race Discrimination - £127,000;

  • Sex Discrimination - £80,400;

  • Disability Discrimination - £79,166;

A breakdown of the £3.53 million awarded, indicates that almost 50 per cent was for sex discrimination, 34 per cent was for race discrimination and 18 per cent was for disability discrimination.

Compensation awarded for injury to feeling, £1.53 million, made up 43 per cent of total compensation awards.

Editor of eordirect, Sue Johnstone warned: “These latest figures are a wake-up call for employers. Not paying proper attention to equal opportunities in the workplace is costing organisations a massive amount of money, almost £4 million in 2000. And the potential for further loss is set to rise with the outlawing of discrimination on grounds of religion or belief, age and sexual orientation in the next few years.”

She added that such losses were completely avoidable by forward-thinking employers who have implementing good equal opportunities policies and practices as a cost-effective way of getting the best out of every employee. (SP)

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