European Employment Law Cases

Case Reports

2016/24 Claimant required to show the ‘reason why’ the underlying reason behind a practice was indirectly discriminatory (UK)

Keywords Race discrimination, Discrimination on the grounds of religion or belief, Indirect discrimination, Underlying reason for PCP
Authors Anna Bond
Author's information

Anna Bond
Anna Bond is an associate at Lewis Silkin LLP: www.lewissilkin.com.
  • Abstract

      The Court of Appeal (‘CoA’) has held that there was no indirect discrimination where the underlying reason behind a ‘provision, criterion or practice’ (‘PCP’) operated by an employer was not discriminatory. The claim of indirect discrimination was brought by Mr Naeem, who is employed by the Prison Service as a full-time imam at HMP Bullingdon. Until 2002, the Prison Service employed only Christian chaplains full-time due to a lack of demand for chaplains of other faiths (who were employed on a sessional basis only). From 2002, it started to hire full-time Muslim as well as Christian chaplains due to an increase in the number of Muslim prisoners.
      The prison system’s pay scale rewards length of service and pay rises are linked to both performance and length of full-time service. Mr Naeem argued that this had a disproportionate negative effect on Muslims, as they could not have been employed for as long as Christians. The CoA rejected this claim, based on the fact that the underlying reason for the difference was the lack of demand for Muslim chaplains before 2002, and that this was not discriminatory.
      This case follows the 2015 CoA case of Essop v Home Office [2015] EWCA Civ 609, which was the first case to add in this extra layer to the indirect discrimination test. According to these cases, a claimant must now show not only that a particular practice particularly disadvantaged them, but also why this is the case. In both cases, appeals have been made to the Supreme Court and these are expected to be heard together later this year.

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