The employment tribunal had erred in holding that trade union discrimination was to be treated at a lower level than other forms of discrimination when assessing an award for injury to feelings.Appeal by the applicant ('S') from the decision of an employment tribunal awarding ?250 in compensation to S for having been subjected to a detriment short of dismissal under s.146 Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992. S was a trade union representative. The facts showed that S was disciplined, dismissed, and then later reinstated. The employment tribunal found that he had been subjected to a detriment short of dismissal as a trade union representative under s.146 of the Act. In assessing compensation, the tribunal: (i) found that S had suffered no financial loss as he had been reinstated; (ii) distinguished Cleveland Ambulance NHS Trust v Blane (1997) IRLR 332, where £1,000 had been awarded for injury to feelings, on the basis that the award was linked to the applicant's earnings in that case; and (iii) awarded £250 to S for injury to feelings. S appealed on the basis that the award was too low.HELD: (1) In Vento v Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police (2002) IRLR 102 the Court of Appeal looked at the approach to be used in assessing compensation. In relation to awards for the less serious cases of discrimination (ie isolated or one-off occurrences), it recommended awards of between £500 and £5,000. In general, awards of less than £500 were to be avoided altogether. Such awards risked being regarded as so low as not being a proper recognition of injury to feelings. However, tribunals still had considerable flexibility to fix what they considered to be fairly reasonable and just compensation in the particular circumstances. (2) The award had been too low. The figure fell below the reasonable band that a tribunal could have considered. (3) The tribunal had erred in its interpretation of Cleveland (supra). There was nothing in that case to suggest that the award was linked to earnings. (4) The tribunal had also erred in holding that trade union discrimination was to be treated at a lower level than other forms of discrimination. That was incorrect as there was no difference between union discrimination and other forms of discrimination in relation to awards for injury to feelings. (4) On that basis, the award of £250 was substituted by an award of £1,000.Appeal allowed.
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