Mr King was engaged as a commission-only salesman for the Sash Window Workshop. He did not have employee status and his engagement could be terminated at any time. Mr King brought a claim of direct age discrimination in relation to the termination of his engagement. Mr King was successful.
When considering the appropriate compensation for Mr King, the Employment Tribunal said the effect of the discrimination on Mr King was not considerable. Mr King understood that his services could be terminated at any time, he enjoyed general freedom and there were considerable tax advantages. It was “hard to see how there could be any significant injury to his feelings” and Mr King was consequently awarded damages for injury to feelings according to the bottom Vento band at £3,000.
The Sash Window Workshop appealed to the EAT in relation to a separate finding to unpaid holiday allowance. Mr King cross-appealed in relation to the Employment Tribunal’s assessment of compensation for injury to feelings.
The EAT upheld Mr King’s cross-appeal.
The EAT held that Mr King’s knowledge that his employment could be terminated at any time was of no significance. His right not to have his engagement terminated for an unlawfully discriminatory reason, and the hurt suffered as a consequence of this, was separate from his knowledge of potential termination. The EAT noted that “his premature dismissal, the manner of that dismissal and his failure to find alternative work has caused hurt and has led to increased stress levels, associated health issues and lack of confidence.”
Damages to Mr King for injury to feelings should be assessed by reference to various, well established principles:
- Compensation should be compensatory, not punitive;
- It should not be set at so low a level as to diminish respect for the policy of anti-discrimination legislation;
- It should bear some similarity to the range of awards in personal injury cases; and
- Tribunals should bear in mind the value in everyday life of the sum they consider.
In discounting the anger, upset, humiliation and stress felt by Mr King (arising from the loss of his job because of unlawful age discrimination), the original Employment Tribunal assessment of damages for injury to feelings was inadequate.
The EAT remitted the injury of feelings award to the Employment Tribunal for re-assessment in accordance with the principles referenced.
In relation to the holiday pay issue, the EAT similarly upheld the Sash Windows Workshop’s appeal and remitted this issue to the Employment Tribunal for reconsideration.
The Sash Window Workshop Ltd & Anor v Mr C King  UKEAT 0057_14_0112 (01 December 2014)