Agency workers rights improve after discrimination case win

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Agency workers rights improve after discrimination case win

If you work through an employment agency you may find that your anti-discrimination rights just improved slightly, following a recent Employment Tribunal decision in a case funded by the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

In this case Corinda Pegg was an agency worker who had been dismissed after 44 weeks service following a number of absences caused by depression. Following a series of bereavements she was off work for a week whilst receiving treatment at a mental health centre. Upon her return to work, she was sometimes late – and when questioned by her line manager explained that the lateness was due to her disability (the depression).

A few months later, after being taken to hospital following a panic attack, she was informed by telephone that her employment had been terminated because of punctuality and poor attendance.

The case went to an Employment Appeal Tribunal on the question of whether the equality legislation protects agency workers from being discriminated against by an employer they are contracted to through an agency.

The Tribunal held that as Ms Pegg was obligated to work for Camden Council, it in turn was subject to a legal requirement not to discriminate against her as an employee.

The Deputy Legal Director of the Equality and Human Rights Commission commented: “There was an urgent need to clarify the legal status of agency workers who have been discriminated against, given the increase in this type of working arrangement.”

Tom Street of Do I Have A Case commented: “We often receive enquiries from individuals who have been contracted through agencies and have encountered a problem with the company they are being supplied to. It is good news for these workers that this case clarifies the position. Agency workers are entitled to the same degree of protection from discrimination in the workplace as if they were permanent employees of the agency’s client.”