In Miss N Grant v Hunter Price International Limited & ors ET2410479/2018 the Employment Tribunal awarded over £70,000 to a female employee who had been discriminated against due to her pregnancy.
The facts in Miss N Grant v Hunter Price International Limited
Miss N Grant (the “Claimant”) was successful in her claim for unfair constructive dismissal, pregnancy discrimination, and victimisation against Hunter Price International Limited (the “Respondent”) (see our analysis of the liability judgment here).
A remedy hearing was arranged to discuss and agree compensation.
The Claimant sought the following compensation:
- Compensation for financial loss
- Injury to feelings
- Failure to provide a main statement of terms and conditions
- Unpaid commission payments
The decision of the Employment Tribunal
The Employment Tribunal found that the Claimant had taken reasonable steps and had shown she had attempted to find alternative work. The Claimant had registered with a number of temporary agencies and had also tried to earn money by selling goods via eBay. The Tribunal noted the Claimant had a young child which made it difficult for her to travel thus found that the Claimant was entitled to her losses up to the date of the hearing. The Respondent was found not to have provided any evidence that the Claimant had failed to mitigate her losses.
The Employment Tribunal also found the Claimant had made concerted efforts to find alternative work from January 2019 and was likely to secure work within 6 months so awarded future losses of 6 months.
Injury to feelings
The Employment Tribunal found that the Claimant had been subjected to acts of discrimination from December 2017 which continued after the end of her employment. After this period the Claimant was then subjected to an act of victimisation by the Respondent/s as her commission payments she was entitled to were withheld.
The Tribunal also considered other aspects of the Claimant’s treatment by the Respondent – these included the lack of a risk assessment being carried out despite her difficult pregnancy, disingenuous use of disciplinary proceedings being commenced against her, and a search for a master spreadsheet that did not in fact exist. This led to increased pressure on the Claimant resulting in her being off work with stress and anxiety.
The Employment Tribunal awarded £20,000 in respect of injury to feelings, this being at the higher end of the Vento guidelines which was considered an appropriate level of compensation for the stress; distress and upset that the Claimant had suffered over a period of several months.
Statement of main terms and conditions
The Employment Tribunal made an award of 4 weeks’ pay for failure to provide a statement of the main terms and conditions – this was based on the Claimant having been employed for 4 years.
The Tribunal found that the failure of the Respondent to provide the Claimant with details of her contract of employment, disciplinary procedure were seen as contributing to the events that happened, with the Claimant not having any contract to help her understand the processes between December 2017 to March 2018.
The Respondent had argued that Polkey applied and should result in a reduction in the award due to the behaviour of the Claimant in making covert recordings of disciplinary meetings.
The Employment Tribunal relied on the case of Phoenix House Limited v Stockman which found that covert recording of a meeting does not necessarily always undermine trust and confidence between an employer and employee. Further, the Tribunal found that the employer did not expressly state in its disciplinary policies that the making of covert recordings would amount to gross misconduct.
The Tribunal also held that the Respondent only decided to take disciplinary action after the Claimant informed them that she was pregnant and that this was discriminatory, and that the making of covert recordings was caused by the Claimant perceiving that she had been subjected to discrimination. The Tribunal found on this basis that it was not just and equitable to reduce the award.
The Tribunal awarded the Claimant a total amount of £73,852.85, comprised of the following:
- Basic Award: £1,956
- Commission payments: £563.49
- Past loss of earnings: £26,691.46
- Future loss of earnings: £15,384.46 (plus pension contributions for six months)
- Injury to feelings: £20,000.00
- Failure to provide a written statement of terms and conditions: £2,853.00
- Loss of statutory rights: £600.00
- Interest on injury to feelings: £3,099.17
- Interest on financial losses: £2,135.05
- Grossing up as losses exceeded £30,000: £2,548.27
No separate award was made for unfair dismissal as the Employment Tribunal considered compensation for loss of earnings had been awarded as compensation for discrimination.
Our lawyers’ views on the remedy judgment in Grant v Hunter Price International Limited
Chris Hadrill, a specialist employment solicitor at Redmans, commented as follows: “If the employer in this case had listed the making of covert recordings as an act of gross misconduct in its disciplinary policies then they would have stood a much greater chance of reducing the award made to the Claimant by the Employment Tribunal. Employers should therefore update their policies and procedures to ensure that they have protection against the making of covert recordings.”