Thaine v London School of Economics UKEAT/0144/10

Ms Thaine was employed as a painter and decorator by the LSE. She was the only female employee in her department and was a victim of sexual harassment. Her psychiatric health deteriorated and she was unable to work. Following her dismissal she successfully brought a claim against the LSE for sex discrimination. The tribunal held that the discrimination had been a material and effective cause of her ill health. However, a number of external factors had contributed to her ill health including the break up of her relationship with her boyfriend and concern over her mother’s health. The tribunal assessed the extent to which the unlawful discrimination of her had contributed to her ill health as 40% only. She appealed but was unsuccessful. The EAT found that the LSE had materially contributed to the harm but the Tribunal had been correct to reduce the award by 60%.

Key point: The proper approach in this type of case is for the tribunal to ask did the conduct for which the employer was materially liable contribute to the harm, and if so, to what extent should liability for that harm fairly be attributed to the employer? Employers should be careful therefore to consider other non-employment related causes for a Claimant’s injury to reduce the compensation payable