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Case Reports

2017/27 Supreme Court clarifies indirect discrimination test (UK)

Journal European Employment Law Cases, Issue 3 2017
Keywords General discrimination, Indirect discrimination
Authors Soyoung Lee
AbstractAuthor's information

    The Supreme Court has given a clear explanation of how the test for indirect discrimination works, holding that it is not necessary to know why a particular group is disadvantaged by an employer’s policy in order to show indirect discrimination. This decision is not particularly helpful for employers as it makes it easier for individuals to make an indirect discrimination claim. However, the Supreme Court emphasised that it is always open to an employer to show that indirect discrimination is justified.


Soyoung Lee
Soyoung Lee is an Associate Solicitor at Lewis Silkin LLP (www.lewissilkin.com).
Case Reports

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

Journal European Employment Law Cases, Issue 2 2016
Keywords Race discrimination, Discrimination on the grounds of religion or belief, Indirect discrimination, Underlying reason for PCP
Authors Anna Bond
AbstractAuthor's information

    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.


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