Rosemary Connolly: Claimaint in sex discrimination claim fails to win interim relief



Rosemary Connolly
Rosemary Connolly

Rosemary Connolly, principal solicitor at Rosemary Connolly Solicitors, Employment and Equality Lawyers, examines a significant decision in a sex discrimination claim in England.

The claimant in the Court of Appeal decision Steer v Stormsure Limited failed in an application for interim relief arising out of a sex discrimination claim.

Ms Steer had made an application for interim relief after her working hours were reduced by 60 per cent in July 2020. It was Ms Steer’s contention that this amounted to a dismissal and constituted unlawful discrimination on grounds of gender and/or unlawful victimisation.

The claims were denied by her employer, Stormsure Limited.

The significance of the case is that the claimant brought an application for interim relief which, had it been successful, would have meant that she would have been awarded her salary and any other benefits on a continuing basis until the matter was brought on for an (expedited) hearing.

Currently this kind of application is available to individuals bringing claims of detrimental treatment on grounds of having made a protected disclosure commonly called “whistleblowing” cases.

The Court of Appeal in England declined to accept the claimant’s contention that the failure of domestic UK law to provide for interim relief in discrimination and victimisation cases amounted to discrimination on gender grounds in breach of Article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

In ruling against the claimant, Lord Justice Bean endorsed an earlier ruling of the Employment Appeal Tribunal that to accede to this claim would significantly change the legal landscape regarding available remedies and extend those well beyond what Parliament had provided.

He also noted that a likely consequence would be that there would be many more applications for interim relief, resulting in cases where such claims arose being prioritised and substantially upsetting the listing processes of Employment Tribunals.

The claimant was supported by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) and it is not yet known whether an appeal will be lodged against this decision.



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