Want to talk to an expert employment law solicitor?

You'll receive a callback from a specialist within an hour

In the latest of our posts on cases from the Employment Appeal Tribunal archive, we examine the case of Johal v Commission for Equality & Human Rights [2010] UKEAT 0541_09_0207, a  maternity discrimination case.


The Employment Appeal Tribunal held that the causative factor for the detriment that Ms Johal had suffered (applying the “reason why” causation test) was a genuine administrative error, rather than because Ms Johal was on maternity leave.

Factual background in Johal v Commission for Equality & Human Rights

Ms Johal commenced employment with the Commission for Equality and Human Rights (“CEHR”) as a Personal Assistant on 1 April 2002 and in April 2005 she became PA to the Director of Corporate and Government Relations.

On 3 December 2007 Ms Johal informed Human Resources that she wished to take maternity leave from 1 December 2007 to 5 January 2009, and requested that she be kept on the IT network whilst she was on maternity leave (as she wished to be kept updated on vacancies and training packages whilst she was on maternity leave).

At the time that Ms Johal went on maternity leave the CEHR was undergoing an internal reorganisation, as the CEHR had been formed on 1 October 2007 from the amalgamation of three legacy commissions (the EOC, CRE, and DRC). In December 2017 Debbie Wood, Director of the Commissioner’s office (and Ms Johal’s ‘de factor’ line manager at the time) was considering, as part of the reorganisation, creating the post of Commissioner’s Office Manager. This post was subsequently approved as a ‘level four’ position, whereas Ms Johal’s role was evaluated at ‘level three’.

On 29 February 2008 Ms Johal emailed Human Resources and the IT Services Desk to ask that her work email account, which had lapsed in December 2007, be reactivated. This was done the same day.

On 4 March 2008 Ms Johal attended a one-to-one meeting with Ms Wood. On that day Ms Johal was informed of the new Commissioner’s Office Manager post, and the need for the office manager was explained to her. Ms Johal did not say that she was interested in this post, nor did she suggest she wished to move into a policy role. The next day Ms Wood emailed her to inform her that she would be kept updated on any further developments and job vacancies.

On 20 March 2008 Ms Wood received approval for the Office Manager role and this vacancy was advertised in the summer of 2008. Ms Johal did not access the website on which the vacancy was advertised and, due to what the Tribunal found was an administrative error, the CEHR did not notify her of the vacancy. She therefore did not apply for the role and it was filled by another employee in the office.

After finding that the Office Manager role had been filled Ms Johal complained that she had not been notified of such while on maternity leave. Ms Wood stated that she would follow up with Human Resource, she having previously informed them to keep Ms Johal updated on job vacancies. Mr Unwin in the IT Department apologies for the breakdown in communication – having reinstated her access in February 2018 her access has then been disabled again accidentally at a later date.

Ms Johal complained in a formal grievance on 24 September 2008 that she had been overlooked for a promotion opportunity. The grievance outcome concluded that there had been a communication failure by the CEHR but that Ms Johal had failed to use the link to the recruitment site that had been sent to her. Ms Johal appealed this outcome and the appeal outcome again shared responsibility for the failure between Ms Johal and the CEHR.

The Employment Tribunal’s decision

The Employment Tribunal held that the failure to keep Ms Johal notified of vacancies at the CEHR whilst she was on maternity leave was a detriment, but the “reason why” she was subjected to this detriment was because of a genuine administrative error on the CEHR’s part – others on maternity leave received appropriate information.

The Employment Tribunal therefore dismissed Ms Johal’s claim for sex discrimination.

Ms Johal appealed the Employment Tribunal’s decision.

The Employment Appeal Tribunal’s decision

The Employment Appeal Tribunal dismissed the appeal, holding that the Employment Tribunal had been entitled to conclude on the facts before it that the “reason why” Ms Johal had been subjected to the detriment was because of a genuine administrative error.

Our solicitors’ comments on Johal v Commission for Equality & Human Rights

Chris Hadrill, an employment solicitor at Redmans, commented on the case: “The Johal case is a much-quoted case when examining causation in discrimination cases – employers must take reasonably practicable steps to ensure that employees who are on maternity leave are treated in no less favourable manner than employees who have not taken maternity leave, otherwise they could face a claim for discrimination.”

The decision of the Employment Appeal Tribunal in Johal v Commission for Equality & Human Rights can be found here.


Redmans Employment Team deal with employment matters for both employers and employees, including drafting employment contracts and policies, advising employers and employees on compromise agreements, handling day-to-day HR issues, advising on restructures, and handling Employment Tribunal cases for both employers and employees Call 020 3397 3603 to speak to one of the members of our employment team or email us on enquiries@redmans.co.uk. Redmans have offices in Richmond, Chiswick, Hammersmith, Fulham, Kingston, Wimbledon, Ealing, Kings Cross and Marylebone (meetings strictly by appointment only).

Want to talk to an expert employment law solicitor?

You'll receive a callback from a specialist within an hour

Share →

Our awards

Request a callback

    Your first name (required)

    Your last name (required)

    Your email (required)

    Your telephone number (required)

    Brief details of your enquiry


    4.79 Average

    273 Reviews

    Mark M

    I found Redmans very easy to work with. Mel was very responsive, her advice led to an improved settlement. . Recommended.!

    Posted 1 day ago


    Fantastic service. I would recommend Redmans to anyone who needed a Solicitor. The communication was second to none and consistent clear guidance was given.

    Posted 3 days ago


    Everyone I dealt with at Redmans were professional, empathetic & always responded promptly and helped make the transition as smooth & efficient as possible for me. If you need legal advice, don’t hesitate & contact the team.

    Posted 5 days ago


    Sacha was incredibly helpful and professional. Timely and accurate advice at a time I most needed it. I was extremely impressed and grateful.

    Posted 5 days ago

    Sue W

    The people at Redmans talk to you with respect and make you feel like they take your situation personal. They clearly care and are extremely professional. I have recommended Redmans to many people.

    Posted 3 weeks ago


    Redmans Solicitors were consistently prompt, efficient and professional from the start of my reaching out to them for support in relation to contentious negotiations of an employment matter that continued for almost two months resulting in a positive settlement agreement. Chris Hadrill was diligent, thorough, empathetic and objective in his advice and guidance, showing deep and broad knowledge of the law and legal processes plus extensive practical experience in handling complex matters, resulting in clear and pragmatic advice in ambiguous circumstances that resulted in a very good outcome. I fully recommend Chris Hadrill and Redmans Solicitors! I have made this review anonymous purely because of the confidentiality obligations in the settlement agreement concluded.

    Posted 1 month ago

    Michelle W

    Redmans solicitors provided legal support and advice for a settlement agreement. Excellent customer service, very professional. The senior associate solicitor kept me updated throughout the process, showed empathy and the agreement was signed-off / completed within the agreed timeline.

    Posted 1 month ago

    Mark W

    Redmans Solicitors were extremely professional and helpful! Chris Hadrill handled my case and was an amazing help! His guidance, advice and understanding to my redundancy settlement were always clear, concise and very helpful and I am very grateful to him, and glad I found Redmans to help with my settlement. I highly recommend them!

    Posted 1 month ago

    Alison M

    Very happy with the advice I received

    Posted 2 months ago

    Margaret A

    I found everything about the company to be extremely professional and efficient. During my initial contact with Chris, he listened well and was reassuring, so I felt confident that my case would be well handled. Caroline was excellent at explaining all the legal points and answering my questions, as well as being very supportive and understanding throughout the process. I would definitely recommend this company.

    Posted 2 months ago

    Sanja K

    Very efficient and professional service.

    Posted 2 months ago


    I found the advice I was given by Redmans Solicitors to be clear and useful and found the solicitor on my case to be both knowledgeable and approachable.

    Posted 2 months ago

    Karen T

    Great service. Thank you.

    Posted 2 months ago


    Excellent service from Chris & Mel Chin. The best outcome was achieved from the redundancy process. They were extremely thorough, listened carefully and acted swiftly on my behalf. I highly recommend Redmans Solicitors

    Posted 2 months ago

    Shanine M

    Excellent service, thank you so much!

    Posted 2 months ago


    I found Caroline and Chris very Helpful and provided excellent service. Caroline especially provided great legal advice and made me feel at ease with the whole process. I would highly recommend them. Thank you!

    Posted 2 months ago

    Gayle B

    Excellent company very professional would definitely recommend

    Posted 2 months ago

    Alex K

    Redmans provided an excellent service, timely and effective. Will definitely recommend.

    Posted 2 months ago


    Great job done on my employment law

    Posted 2 months ago

    Dominica S

    Caroline & Chris were very prompt and efficient.Very happy with the service and will definitely recommend Redmans Solicitor to everyone !

    Posted 2 months ago

    Sandra K

    If you are looking for a group of solicitors who are Professional, Caring and on point, then look no futher than Redmans. I was literally hand held through out my case. Can not find fault with this company, very happy with the result and the service i received. Would highly recommend Redmans.

    Posted 2 months ago