Legal Updates

Employment – Discrimination against Male Employee – Physical Abuse

In the case of Milne v Link Asset and Security Company Limited [2005], an employee claimed that he was unlawfully discriminated against on grounds of sex when his employer physically abused him in a manner he alleged his employer would not have used with female employees. Base, the employer, acted as a sole trader in plumbing and heat engineering. Riley, his employee, was an apprentice. Riley was physically abused by Base on a number of occasions. Base used something called an “apprentice correction stick” to beat the employee and Base also pushed Riley against the wall, put his hands around his throat and punched and hit him. Riley also alleged that Base had been verbally abusive.

Base denied these allegations and alleged that the employee made up these incidents to bolster a claim for compensation.  Riley brought proceedings against Base before the Employment Tribunal. Riley brought actions for breach of contract and sex discrimination claiming that Base would not have treated a female apprentice in the same way.   The Employment Tribunal held that there had been a breach of contract but dismissed the claim for sex discrimination. The Employment Tribunal rejected the claim for sex discrimination and ruled that that was no evidence that Base treated Riley in this way because he was a man.

Riley appealed this decision to the Employment Appeals Tribunal and argued that the Employment Tribunal had erred in law.

The Employment Appeals Tribunal held that:

▪     the Employment Tribunal failed to apply s.63A of the Sex Discrimination Act, which says that a tribunal should uphold a complaint if a respondent cannot show that he did not commit an unlawful act of discrimination;

▪     the test for breach of s.63A is whether the employer was influenced by unlawful discriminatory considerations, not whether the treatment was on grounds of sex;

▪     the employer used violence towards the male employee, which he admitted he would not have done to a woman;

▪     the appeal would therefore be allowed and a finding of sex discrimination substituted.

Comment: If you require further information on discrimination at work please contact us at enquiries@rtcoopers.com or Visit http://www.rtcoopers.com/practice_employment.php

© RT COOPERS, 2005. 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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