Injury to feelings award
An award for injury to feelings is made to compensate for injury to feelings caused by discrimination. This award is separate from an award to compensate for financial loss and can be made even where no financial loss has been suffered.
The Claimant does not need to prove that they suffered any medical injury and the employment tribunal needs to assess whether the claimant's feelings were injured and attribute a financial value to that injury. The tribunal will take various different factors into account when coming to their decision including:-
- The degree of distress/upset caused
- How the respondent dealt with any grievance brought by the claimant
- The seriousness of what happened
- Any medical condition that the claimant is suffering from
- Whether the claimant has suffered from panic attacks, stress, lack of confidence
- How senior the person found to be discriminating was
It is understandably difficult for tribunals to attribute a financial value to the claimant's injury to feelings. To assist tribunals the Court of Appeal previously set out guidance for quantifying awards for injury to feelings, known as the Vento guidelines. Injury to feelings awards fall within one of three bands:- the bottom, middle or top.
The bottom band is for the less serious cases such as one off or isolated incidents. The middle band is for cases which are more serious than those that fall into the lowest band but do not meet the criteria for the highest band. The highest band is for very serious cases, such as those where there has been an extended campaign of harassment over a long period of time. Each band has a fixed range of awards which may be made and these have been adjusted over the years to take inflation into account.
The current limits for the Vento bands are (applicable to claims presented on or after 6 April 2018) are:
Bottom Band - £900 - £8,600
Middle Band - £8,600 - £25,700
Top Band - £25,700 - £42,900
Awards of over £42,900 will only be made in very exceptional cases. The bands will be reviewed in March 2019 and annually thereafter.
Employers should bear in mind the practical tips in my previous blog to ensure that they do all that they can to reduce the risk of discrimination taking place and to minimise the risk of an expensive claim being made against them.