Compensation for Injury to Feelings
The Vento guidelines assist tribunals in coming to a decision about the appropriate level of compensation for injury to feelings in cases of discrimination.
Compensation for injury to feelings is exactly that, it does not set out to punish an employer for bad behaviour but merely to compensate you for how badly you have been treated. A tribunal will consider the level of discrimination you have been subjected to, the effect that it has had on you and the level to which your feelings have been injured. Tribunals recognise that those people in particularly vulnerable positions such as those with disabilities or stress-related conditions, will be more likely to have been more seriously affected and as such are more inclined to make awards in the higher bands. With some notable exceptions, a typical award for injury to feelings is around the £5,000 mark.
There are three bands of compensation for injury to feelings.
The Top Band
A figure between £18,000 to £30,000 is available for extremely serious cases of discrimination. For example, those who have suffered a long campaign of harassment or discrimination.
The Middle Band
An award between £6,000 and £8,000 might be used to compensate the feelings of those who have suffered
The Lower Band
£500 and £6,000 in less serious cases of discrimination
Injury to Feelings Amounting to a Personal Injury
Sometimes discrimination may have been so serious in nature or have such a substantial effect on a person that it goes beyond injury to feelings and causes a physical or psychiatric injury. In these, thankfully rare, circumstances victims are entitled to bring claims for personal injuries. Any such claim must of course be substantiated by comprehensive medical evidence.
Notwithstanding what has been said above about compensation for injury to feelings not being a means of punishing an employer, tribunals will make higher awards in cases where employers have acted particularly badly. For example, attempted to cover up discrimination; failed to act on a grievance submitted by the employee about discrimination or treated an employee less well on account of complaints that they have made about discrimination.
It is also possible for an employer to make matters worse for themselves during the course of a hearing. An employer acting in a malicious or oppressive manner whilst defending a claim for discrimination might find that the tribunal takes account of their bad behaviour when considering the appropriate award for injury to feelings.
Employer’s Liability for Discrimination
Although the changes brought in by the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act have removed employer’s liability for the discriminatory acts of its employees, employers still have a duty to prevent their employees from suffering discrimination. Under section 26(1) (b) (ii) Equality Act 2010 they must take steps to ensure that the workplace is not an ”intimidating, hostile, humiliating or offensive environment”.