In the recent case of AA Solicitors v Majid, Miss Majid was dismissed after six weeks’ employment. She claimed that this was discriminatory on the grounds of her sex and cited around 40 acts of sexual harassment by her employer, which included asking her out, attempting to hug her and inappropriate touching of her arm. The claim was successful and Miss Majid was awarded £2,111.40 for loss of earnings, £14,000 for injury to feelings and aggravated damages of £4,000.
Importantly, the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) held that the 10% uplift to general damages introduced in the case of Simmons v Castle applies to injury to feelings awards in the employment tribunal, increasing the maximum amount that may be granted from £30,000 to £33,000. It went on to comment that employment tribunals should be entitled to take the effect of inflation into account when assessing such damages going forwards. Using the Retail Prices Index to June 2016, it is, as such, arguable that tribunals can already award a significantly higher figure than the previous £30,000 maximum for injury to feelings, namely £40,500.
AA Solicitors argued that £14,000 was ‘manifestly excessive’ and that awards of this type should be purely compensatory in order to maintain public confidence. However, the EAT said that Miss Majid’s dignity as a worker had been violated and the law would be deficient if it was not possible to make an award to recognise the humiliation she had been put through.
This case and the EAT’s response were timely in light of the TUC’s announcement this week that more than half of the British women it surveyed felt that, like Miss Majid, they had been subjected to sexual harassment at work, with 23% having experienced unwanted touching.