August’s top five employment law cases
The Court of Appeal upheld a ruling that a teacher’s holiday was wrongly calculated, in a judgment that was described as a victory for part-time workers.
The court ruled that Ms L Brazel, who works as a visiting music teacher for Bedford Girls’ School, should have her holiday pay decided on her earnings over a 12-week reference period. Her employer had argued that the standard way to determine holiday pay was on a pro-rata basis.
Using the method recommended by Acas for casual workers, the trust operating the school had been recording Brazel’s holiday as being the equivalent of 12.07 per cent of hours worked – calculated by dividing the number of working weeks by the statutory 5.6 weeks’ entitlement. However, Brazel successfully argued that the Working Time Directive (WTD) dictated that holiday pay should be calculated by taking a week’s pay – an average of weekly remuneration for the 12 weeks before the calculation date – and multiplying that by 5.6.
The judge noted there was nothing in the WTD that required a different approach to be taken if a worker did not work a full year.
A pub manager was sexually harassed after a senior co-worker engaged in “poor taste humour” by making sexual innuendos towards her, an employment tribunal (ET) ruled.
The Sheffield ET found that even without any “malicious intent” on the part of the perpetrator, making sexual innuendos could reasonably be perceived as violating an individual’s dignity and creating a hostile work environment.
The judge added that although Ms J Prewett, who worked for pub chain Greene King from 1995 until her resignation on 5 December 2018, was used to dealing with a wide range of customers in her working life as a pub manager, the statements in question were made by a colleague “with whom, at the time of these events, she had a very serious job to do”, and were therefore inappropriate.
A council employee won his claims of racial harassment after an incident where his supervisor made racist remarks towards him as they drove to a job.
The Leeds ET found that Mr A Leader, an environmental action operative employed by Leeds City Council, suffered “clearly unwanted” comments about his race, the colour of his skin and the nationality of others that amounted to racial harassment.
In what lawyers described as an ‘unusual’ move, the ET dismissed claims against the council itself after ruling that the employer had shown it had taken all reasonable steps to prevent the supervisor from making racist comments to fellow employees. The case proceeded instead against the individual supervisor who made the remarks.
A bank manager was discriminated against when his employer unfairly dismissed him for failing to undertake proper checks, something he attributed to the side effects of his ‘uncontrolled’ diabetes.
A London ET ruled that HBOS, which previously ran the Halifax building society business and is now part of Lloyds Banking Group, unfairly and wrongfully dismissed Mr B Kuppala after his diabetes inhibited his ability to follow the proper security and closing procedures at his branch. Kuppala was found to have left keys in the door on multiple occasions, and once locked a customer in after closing time.
The tribunal concluded that if HBOS had obtained occupational health advice, it would have been told Kuppala was disabled and “the disability was uncontrolled and likely to have had an effect on his concentration and his tiredness”.
A police officer with a form of colour vision defect faced indirect sex discrimination after his employer temporarily removed him from its rapid response driving team, a London tribunal has found.
Alexander Wisbey, a police sergeant on the City of London force, was an authorised firearms officer and part of the rapid response driving team, but was removed from both teams in April 2017 because of his colour vision defect, before being reinstated following an investigation.
He argued this was indirect sex discrimination as his condition, which was genetic, affects significantly more men than women.
A London ET ruled that the force indirectly discriminated against Wisbey when it temporarily banned him from the rapid response driving team – but not when it took him off the firearms team – because it did not thoroughly investigate colour vision standards as it did for those within the firearms team.