Mon 14 Jul 2014

Compensation awards in discrimination claims survey

The Equal Opportunities Review (the "EOR") have, once again, produced a very interesting annual survey on the compensation awards made in discrimination cases. The first part of the statistics for 2013 have recently been published by the EOR and, with their kind permission, I have set out some of the main points below.

The statistics are based on 355 cases either filed by the Employment Tribunal Service in Bury St Edmunds or sent to the EOR by individual lawyers and Employment Judges.

The total compensation awarded in the 355 cases was £4,268,327. Discrimination awards are uncapped and the highest award made was £168,900 in the sex discrimination case of Austin v West Sussex County Council, in which it was established sex discrimination caused a detriment and led to dismissal.

Breakdown of Awards

Of the total amount awarded (£4,268,327), 43% is attributable to awards made for injury to feelings (£1,847,242) with the rest made up of, predominantly, financial loss (i.e. loss of earnings).

The highest awards made for the various categories of discrimination were as follows (note that these awards include both the compensatory and injury to feelings element):-

Protected Characteristic Highest Award







Religion & belief


Sex/Pregnancy or Maternity


Sexual orientation


I have set out below the median awards for the various strands of discrimination with the 2012 and 2011 figures for comparison purposes:-

Protected Characteristic

Median Award (2013)

Median Award (2012)

Median Award (2011)













Religion & belief








Sexual orientation




All discrimination awards




Again, these awards include both the compensatory and injury to feelings element.

Injury To Feelings

The levels of injury to feelings awards are often hotly disputed when claims are being negotiated and there are some very interesting statistics in the survey regarding the levels of award. I will publish a separate blog on this shortly.

Employment Tribunal Fees

The EOR note that there has been a drop in claims since the introduction of employment tribunal fees. However, they make the point that most of the claims covered by this survey had already been lodged by the time fees were introduced and as such did not come under the fee system. The EOR report that it will not be until the results of the 2014 compensation awards survey that the true impact of the fee regime will be seen.  Based on the statistics published to date I would anticipate that there will be a very significant reduction in the number of discrimination claims raised since employment tribunal fees were introduced.

Private Settlements

It should be borne in mind that the statistics relate to a selection of cases which were decided by the Employment Tribunal and do not take into account the many claims that do not reach a full hearing and which, instead, conclude by way of agreed settlements for undisclosed sums.


As ever it is important to bear in mind that unlawful discrimination awards are uncapped and can be extremely costly to an organisation.

Two fundamental points that will generally be explored in cross-examination in discrimination cases are:-

1. whether there was an equal opportunities policy in place and the extent to which the content was well known to the employees;

2. the extent to which managers and employees were given training in respect of the content of the policy.

Very often employers will be able to point to a policy document but employers frequently struggle to demonstrate that adequate training was given in terms of that policy. This can result in claims being lost and significant awards being made against employers.

Employers should provide appropriate training for employees and managers, to ensure that they do all that they can to reduce the risks of instances of discrimination arising and of a successful claim being made. A failure to do so may prove very costly.

The full survey published by the EOC goes into a lot more detail and for anyone practicing in this area it is a must read.

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