Dismissed pharmacist loses £35,000 claim

Posted: 2nd November 2012

A pharmacist who was dismissed after allegedly calling the business for which she worked ‘a little Sikh club’ has had her hopes of a £35,000 compensation award dashed after the Court of Appeal rejected her plea that she had been victimised for making a protected complaint of discrimination.

The woman, who is Islamic, was dismissed from her job at a pharmacy shortly after the company’s head of human resources was informed that she had made the remark during an ill-tempered meeting. An employment tribunal later found that she had made the comment and had not been discriminated against. However, it went on to rule that her remark, made in a moment of stress, was a complaint of unequal treatment and that her dismissal amounted to victimisation. The tribunal awarded her £34,748 damages. EAT

However, that decision was later overturned by the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) and the woman has now been refused permission to challenge that ruling at the Court of Appeal.

Approving the EAT’s reasoning, Lady Justice Hallett, sitting with Lord Justice Etherton and Dame Janet Smith, said that the original tribunal had made an 'unwarranted leap' as to what was in the human resources manager’s mind when she dismissed the woman.

She concluded: ‘True it is that the appellant was dismissed because she made the remark which the tribunal considered objectively to be a complaint of discrimination. But that was not the reason why the human resources manager acted as she did.

She dismissed the appellant because she thought she had made an offensive and racist remark. We prefer the analysis and conclusions of the EAT; the original tribunal's reasoning was flawed.’