Legal Updates

Employment – Discrimination – Promotion

In the recent case of Famy v Hilton UK Hotels Ltd [2006], an employee complained of discrimination in relation to promotion opportunities. The employee was of Filipino background and had been employed as a bar supervisor in central London from June 1984 to October 2004. During this time the position of bar manager became available several times. However, it was always external applicants who were appointed. The vacancies were advertised externally and internally. When the positions had become available, the employee had not formally applied for them and subsequently had not been considered for promotion.

On one occasion in 2000, the employee applied for a vacancy as a bar manager. He was informed that the position no longer existed due to the restructuring of the catering department. Following the restructuring in 2004, the position was again advertised both externally and internally. This new position was for the management of three bars which existed within the hotel. The employee expressed a desire to take on the management of the cocktail bar, but no such position existed. The employer said that bar manager role was for all three bars. As the employee did not want to manage all three, he did not apply for the role.

The employee then commenced grievance proceedings against the employer and resigned in early December 2004. He complained that he had been continually overlooked for the position as bar manager. He issued proceedings before the Employment Tribunal (“Tribunal”). He argued the following:

§   The failure to promote him to bar manager was due to racial discrimination by the employer; and

§   The grievance procedure was tainted by racial discrimination.

The Tribunal ruled against the employee as there was insufficient evidence to prove racial discrimination by the employer. The employee subsequently appealed to the Employment Appeals Tribunal (“EAT”). The appeal was dismissed.

The EAT found the following based on the facts presented before them:

§   The positions had been advertised both internally and externally

§   The applicants who had been assigned to the positions had actually applied for them

§   The employee had not applied for those positions; and

§   When the employee had applied for the position of bar manager, the position did not exist.

The EAT held that the applicants who had been appointed to the positions would have been treated in the same way as the employee. In those circumstances, the employee failed to make out a case for racial discrimination. The Tribunal was entitled to rule that there was no discrimination.

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© RT COOPERS, 2006. This Briefing Note does not provide a comprehensive or complete statement of the law relating to the issues discussed nor does it constitute legal advice. It is intended only to highlight general issues. Specialist legal advice should always be sought in relation to particular circumstances.




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