Victory in a discrimination claim – a Pyrrhic Victory?
Like many of you,on my training courses, I relate and hear about successful discrimination,harassment, bullying claims on the part of the employee. And perhaps like some of you, I also represent people with some successes informally, in tribunals and/or with compensation claims as a volunteer advocate.
But here’s the thing.Reflecting on a large number of cases, I still think many of them turn out to be hollow, shallow, empty and even pyrrhic victories. The person gets the apology, a reasonable adjustment, perhaps the compensation but NOTHING actually changes in the organisation itself.Things go on as before and sometimes the victor is victimised subsequently!
The Equality Act held out the hope and perhaps still the prospect of forcing an organisation or company to actually carry out wholesale organisational measures and to be (i) much more proactive in policy implementation and (ii) discharge the burden of proof first once the applicant had made out a prima facie case.
But as we enter March,we will see this month the abolition of the discrimination questionnaire procedure and the removal from judges of the power to make recommendations for organisational action based on the awful details emerging from a proven individual claim. Add to this toxic mixture,the deposit scheme for making a claim and you see another barrier to justice.Many of the people I represent don’t have twelve quid let alone the £1200 needed soon. Serial litigants do exist of course but I have only ever met three in my whole professional and volunteer career.Most people in my experience are very very reluctant to lodge a claim and again when a person does and even wins,there is sometimes a bleak aftermath.One person who I helped recently won a lot of money and an apology but every time he sees a certain supermarket advert he has a panic attack. And finally to cap it all the Prime Minister lambasts equality impact analysis measures and his deputy speaks of "indirect and unspecific" harassment allegations about which the alleged perpretator was given advice -about what? Lol.
So do we face a continuation of Pyrrhic victories or is the present hour of equality progress the darkness before the dawn? Discuss!