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Law for Business

Knowhow - guidance - precedents

11 SEP 2012

Vicarious liability for discrimination

In the case of Bungay v All Saints Haque Centre, the EAT confirmed that the actions of an organisation's agents can make it vicariously liable for acts of discrimination, even where those acts have not been authorised.

The appellants were members of the management board of an advice centre, who were ordered to pay damages to two former employees of the centre, following successful claims for unfair dismissal and discrimination on the ground of religion. The tribunal at first instance had also awarded aggravated damages against the appellants because of the way they had conducted disciplinary proceedings against the employees and subsequent malicious complaints they made to the police.

The EAT upheld the tribunal's decision, confirming that under ordinary agency principles, the appellants' acts were treated as being done by the centre. Although this case was brought under the now repealed Employment Equality (Religion or Belief) Regulations 2003, the position is the same under the Equality Act.

The EAT also held that the tribunal had been correct to order aggravated damages because the appellants were ‘prime movers' in a campaign of discrimination.

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