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Industrial Law Journal Advance Access

Published: Mon, 18 Dec 2017 00:00:00 GMT

Last Build Date: Mon, 18 Dec 2017 01:52:48 GMT


Indirect Discrimination, Justification and Proportionality: Are UK Claimants at a Disadvantage?

Mon, 18 Dec 2017 00:00:00 GMT

The minimum standard of scrutiny for the justification defence in the context of indirect discrimination was first set out by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) in Bilka-Kaufhaus GmbH v Weber von Hartz (1986). This established that an indirectly discriminatory measure is justified if it meets a real need and is appropriate and necessary for meeting that need. The UK courts’ approach to the concept of proportionality within the context of this justification defence may nevertheless have distinct disadvantages for claimants in comparison with their EU counterparts. The approach of the UK courts is assessed here by considering the development of case law in this area, both in the Employment Appeal Tribunal and in the higher courts. When compared to the approach taken by the CJEU, it becomes apparent that there is a significant difference between the ways in which UK courts and the CJEU interpret the justification defence. Findings show that the approach of the UK courts significantly disadvantages claimants, leading to the conclusion that the UK may not be fully compliant with EU law. To remedy this defect, it is suggested that there are at least two practical alternative solutions. The first is that Parliament could incorporate a strict necessity test into the Equality Act. Alternatively, the courts could develop a ‘robust approach’ to proportionality. The outcomes of a large number of employment law cases are examined here, appearing to suggest that the latter approach may have greater benefits for claimants than those associated with adopting a strict necessity test, although it is unlikely that will find favour with either Parliament or the courts.

The Inadequate Protection of Human Rights in Unfair Dismissal Law

Sat, 09 Dec 2017 00:00:00 GMT

Workers in the private sector have limited legal options if they believe that, by terminating the working relationship, the employer has infringed their human rights. In most cases, they must rely on an existing cause of action, notably the right not to be unfairly dismissed contained in the Employment Rights Act 1996. The provisions of the Human Rights Act 1998 reinforce the argument that unfair dismissal law should play a role in the vindication of human rights in the employment context. Is the law of unfair dismissal capable of fulfilling this role? This article will argue that it is not. It will demonstrate that there are several major obstacles to the vindication of a worker’s human rights through unfair dismissal law. It will be argued that there are three ways in which the law of unfair dismissal is inconsistent with the principles of the European Convention on Human Rights: the narrow personal scope of protection, the lax standard of review applied by the tribunals and the inadequate remedies available to claimants who are successful in their claim.