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Short back and sides - discrimination legislation

04 June 2006

Discrimination legislation is a serious problem for employers – a rogue manager can be personally at risk as well as putting the company in the firing line for litigation.

Consider the hairdressers’ tale that went to an employment tribunal, an appeal tribunal and ended up in the Appeal Court. Maxine Miles was the manager of a hair salon that employed Janine Gilbank as a senior stylist. After Ms Gilbank became pregnant, she was subjected to an inhumane and sustained campaign of bullying by her colleagues.

The court found that Ms Miles had encouraged and fostered an environment where managers had not been reprimanded for mistreating Ms Gilbank. Maxine Miles was held personally liable for the discriminatory acts by both herself and the other employees.

The court commented that the award of £25,000 for injury to feelings ‘was not manifestly excessive’ in the circumstances.

Here the manager herself and the company, in which she was a shareholder, were deemed to be jointly and severally liable for the damages and also for £3,500 in unpaid maternity pay. The case may be illuminating for any managers out there who could benefit from some ‘reforming’.

As always, if you need commercial and pragmatic legal advice, we’re here to help so please get in touch.

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Jenny Hawrot LLB (Hons)
Senior associate, solicitor
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Jenny Hawrot
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