Where a claimant successfully pursues a claim for discrimination in the Employment Tribunal the compensation awarded, known as an injury to feelings award, is based upon the severity of the conduct that the claimant has been subjected to.
Injury to feelings awards fall into various “bands” and the Presidents of the Employment Tribunals in England & Wales and Scotland have now issued guidance updating the bands of awards for injury to feelings, also known as the Vento bands.
Vento bands - background
In Vento v Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police (No 2)  IRLR 102, the Court of Appeal set three bands of potential awards to be given for injured feelings in discrimination claims:
- The lower band for “less serious cases, such as where the act of discrimination is an isolated or one-off occurrence”.
- The middles band for “serious cases, which do not merit an award in the highest band”.
- The top band for “the most serious cases, such as where there has been a lengthy campaign of discriminatory harassment on the ground of sex or race”. An award for injury to feelings should only be granted within this band in “the most exceptional case”.
When assessing which category of Vento band an award for injury to feelings should fall into, the Tribunal will look at various factors of the case and the main focus will always be on the effect that the discriminatory act has had on the individual.
Examples of factors that the Tribunal will consider include; the personal characteristics of the claimant, any medical condition the claimant is suffering with, stress that the claimant is suffering with because of the discriminatory act, interference the discriminatory act has had with the claimant’s personal relationships, loss of the claimant’s confidence and the effect on the claimant’s career.
Whilst it was determined that the lower band could be for a one-off occurrence, this is not a deciding factor in placing an award into the lower band and the Tribunal will always consider the effect that the act of discrimination had on the particular claimant. The level of compensation to be awarded is therefore not an “exact science”, as recognised by the EAT in Da’Bell v NSPCC UKEAT/0227/09, and is always assessed on a case-by-case basis.
Update to Vento bands – April 2022
For claims presented on or after 6 April 2022, the Vento bands shall now be as follows: a lower band of £990 to £9,900; a middle band of £9,900 to £29,600; and an upper band of £29,600 to £49,300, with the most exceptional cases capable of exceeding £49,300.
If the discrimination is accompanied by a dismissal (whether unfair or constructive), the claimant will also claim a compensatory award in connection with the dismissal itself.
If you require assistance or advice on the content of this article, please contact the Employment Team at Thackray Williams LLP 020 8290 0440.
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