The EAT has confirmed in EAD Solicitors -v- Abrams 2015 that a company can claim to have suffered detriment because of the protected characteristic of an individual associated with it.
This case concerned a company which was a member of an LLP. The principal shareholder of the company was Mr Abrams. The parties were in dispute as to whether age discrimination occurred and whether the company suffered a detriment. At a preliminary hearing, an Employment Tribunal found that the company could in principle claim to have been directly discriminated against where it suffered detrimental treatment because of the protected characteristic of Mr Abrams.
The EAT upheld this decision on appeal. It has always been accepted that a company is capable of being the discriminator; there was no reason for interpreting the Equality Act 2010 to mean that a company could not also be discriminated against. Although a company could not itself have a protected characteristic, it could suffer a detriment on the basis of the protected characteristic of someone associated with it, such as a major shareholder.