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How many allegations of discrimination can an employee allege?

View profile for Emily Yeardley
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In recent case Tarn v Hughes & Ors UKEAT/0064/18/DM, the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) overturned the Tribunal’s order that a GP was only entitled to pursue the ten most serious and recent allegations of sex and pregnancy discrimination.

Facts

Dr Tarn was employed by the Milestone Surgery. She was also a member of the partnership from February 2013 to 31st December 2017. Dr Hughes and Dr Ors were also partners of the Surgery during this period. Tarn informed her colleagues that she was pregnant in January 2016. She alleges that following her announcement, Hughes and Ors subjected her to various acts of direct sex and pregnancy discrimination, harassment and victimisation and, as a result, she resigned on 27th July 2017.

What did the parties argue?

The agreed list of issues for the tribunal to determine identified 30 separate discriminatory acts. Although Hughes and Ors accepted this list of issues, the Tribunal ordered Tarn to select the 10 acts she considered to be the most serious and rely on the others as part of the background. Tarn appealed this decision arguing that she should be entitled to rely on all 30 acts.

Decision

The EAT allowed the appeal. It found the Tribunal’s Judgment to be perverse. It had not considered the potential unfairness of restricting Tarn from relying on all the identified acts, nor the impracticality of having to pick 10.  Additionally, the Tribunal would not benefit from this limitation in regard to time or cost savings as they would still be required to hear evidence in relation to the acts not relied upon by way of background. Although there are circumstances where claims can be limited in this way, these are rare exceptions and do not represent the general rule. The EAT held that in the majority of cases, it does not fall to the Tribunal to limit an employee’s claims as this may prevent a fair disposal of the claims. The EAT held that the Tribunal appeared to have unfairly required Tarn to distinguish between acts which should form the basis of her complaints and matters which should be regarded as context only.

Conclusion

Employees can rest assured that the Employment Tribunal will only limit the number of claims to be heard in exceptional circumstances, such as where particular claims have no reasonable prospects of success.

If you would like to discuss any of the issues in this case, please do not hesitate to contact a member of the Employment team.

This article is not a definitive statement of the law. It is designed as a free update on the law at the time of publishing. It is not a substitute for legal advice on specific facts and circumstances. BakerLaw LLP and/or the writer accepts no liability or responsibility for reliance on this article and recommends that you seek independent legal advice on your specific circumstances prior to taking any steps.

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