Woodcock: press reporting of employment law issues reaches a new low

Yesterday brought a judgment from the Court of Appeal in Woodcock v Cumbria Primary Care Trust, a case that we employment lawyers had been waiting for for a while. Mr Woodcock had been sacked by an NHS trust where he had been chief executive, just before the time when his pension benefits would have gone up significantly had he stayed in post. He sued for age discrimination, and we all wanted to know what the court would make of it.

Not because we cared about Mr Woodcock. Or the NHS trust for that matter. We are only lawyers after all, it’s not like we’re real people, with feelings. Continue reading

Posted in Age discrimination, Press hyperbole, Retirement | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

Rowan Atkinson, Discrimination Law and Creative Free Expression (Or: The News Is Not Not the Nine O’Clock News)

Rowan Atkinson has recently spoken out (Telegraph, BBC) about the effect of discrimination laws on “creative free expression”, with reference to Miriam O’Reilly’s victory over the BBC in her recent age discrimination case. He seems to deplore this intrusion, as if television is somehow an area where society’s mores should not apply. Continue reading

Posted in Age discrimination, Sex discrimination | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

12 days of employment law reform

On the first day of Christmas, Vince Cable gave to me: justice (but for a large fee).

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Unfair dismissal qualifying periods: a historical perspective

The government (along with its advisers such as the now-notorious Adrian Beecroft) claim that employment laws in general, and unfair dismissal laws in particular, are holding up the economy, by making employers afraid to take on new recruits. Many people (myself included) have argued that (a) this is inherently ridiculous, because if your business is lucky enough to have experienced an upturn in work, then it would be madness not to hire enough staff to do it; and (b) there is simply no evidence to back it up, or at least, none has yet been produced. Continue reading

Posted in General employment law, Myths, Red Tape Challenge | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

Making sense of the EHRC’s stance on religion

A few weeks ago I blogged about the rather bizarre sounding messages that were coming from the Equality and Human Rights Commission on the subject of religious freedoms at work. They said they intervene in 4 cases going to the European Court of Human Rights at Strasbourg, to argue that UK law doesn’t adequately protect religious freedom. Two of those cases concern Christians who were sacked for refusing to provide services to same sex couples. The courts have been too harsh on Christians, the EHRC said, and the law should provide “reasonable accommodation” for religious views. There was an outcry: the EHRC thinks Christianity trumps gay rights, some people thought. Now, the Telegraph reports, the idea of reasonable accommodation has been dropped. Was the whole thing a sudden knee-jerk reaction? What’s actually wrong with the law, and what does the EHRC really want out of it?

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Posted in Religion | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Reasonable adjustments for religion: the EHRC explains all

Commission proposes ‘reasonable accommodation’ for religion or belief is needed

That’s the headline of the EHRC press release from Tuesday this week, when it announced that it was going to intervene in 4 controversial cases currently before the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. The UK courts have come in for considerable criticism from religious groups over their allegedly pro-secular and anti-Christian stance, particularly over the thorny issue of where religious freedom meets gay rights. How is this going to be resolved? Continue reading

Posted in Press hyperbole, Religion, Sexual orientation | 3 Comments

Capping discrimination damages? Much ado about nothing

Compensation payouts in discrimination cases have been in the news again in the last week, this time as a result of the government’s “red tape challenge” (in other words, the idea of abolishing anything that might conceivably inhibit growth). I have previously argued that employers should stop worrying about discrimination claims and focus on other things, but with the CBI managing the political agenda, and the press champing at the bit,  here’s the story… Continue reading

Posted in Discrimination, General employment law, Press hyperbole | 3 Comments