How much compensation can be claimed for injury to feelings?
Claimants who succeed in a claim of discrimination in the Employment Tribunal are able to claim an award of compensation for injury to feelings. This aims to compensate the claimant for the hurt, anxiety or distress that they have suffered as a result of the discrimination.
The Court of Appeal set guidelines for the appropriate amount of compensation to be awarded for injury to feelings in the case of Vento v Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police (No 2). These are known as the Vento guidelines. The Court identified three broad bands of compensation:
- A lower band – for less serious cases, such as where the act of discrimination is an isolated or one-off occurrence;
- A middle band – for cases that do not merit an award in the upper band; and
- An upper band – for the most serious cases, such as where there has been a lengthy campaign of discriminatory harassment on the ground of sex or race.
Injury to feelings compensation
The Vento guidelines are adjusted each year to take account of the Retail Prices Index (RPI) measure of inflation. For claims presented on or after 6 April 2023, the Vento bands will increase as follows:
- Lower band: £1,100 – £11,200.
- Middle band: £11,200 – £33,700.
- Upper band: £33,700 – £56,200.
Exceptional cases are capable of exceeding £56,200.
It is worth remembering that in a successful discrimination claim, there is no upper limit to the amount of compensation that an individual can claim. They can claim not only compensation for financial loss, but also an amount for the hurt that they have suffered as a result of the discrimination.
Claims for discrimination can be brought against not only the employer, but also any other colleague that the claimant believes is responsible for the discrimination, such as a manager. If the claim is successful, compensation can be awarded against both.
An employer can be liable for acts of discrimination committed by an employee against a colleague in the course of employment. However, there is a defence available to an employer if it can show that it took all reasonable steps to prevent the employee from carrying out the discriminatory act.
We can provide bespoke equality awareness training in your workplace for managers. Contact us to find out more.
31 March 2023
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