Does a failure to investigate an allegation that was fabricated amount to discrimination?

Does a failure to investigate an allegation that was fabricated amount to discrimination?

Employment solicitor, Nicola Robson, looks back at the decision in Singh v Cordant Security Limited and what it means for employers.

The background

Mr Singh was a security guard of Indian ethnic origin who worked for Cordant Security Limited.

It was alleged that he smelled of alcohol at work. His employer sent him home while this was investigated.

He made an allegation that his supervisor, who was white, had used racially abusive language towards him.

Cordant Security Limited chose not to investigate his complaint.

Mr Singh issued a claim asserting that he had suffered less favourable treatment on the ground of his race.

The decision

In respect of the allegations by Mr Singh against his supervisor, the Tribunal concluded that Mr Singh had fabricated the evidence and his supervisor had not been racially abusive.

However, at first instance the Tribunal found the failure to investigate the allegation amounted to less favourable treatment on the grounds of race.

The Tribunal didn’t identify any detriment which Mr Singh had suffered because the allegations were found to be false.

This decision was overturned by the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT).

It concluded that for there to be a finding of discrimination, a Tribunal has to determine not only that the employee suffered discrimination but that he was subjected to detriment as a result of that discrimination.

What this means for you

This reminds us that less favourable treatment on grounds of a protected characteristic alone is not sufficient for a claim under the Equality Act 2010. The employee must also suffer a detriment.

Although the employer in this case was lucky its employee's allegation turned out to be false, it’s always best practice to investigate all grievances lodged by your employees to ensure discrimination claims don’t arise.

The mere fact a grievance is bound to fail doesn’t exclude the possibility of there being a detriment.

The employee may still feel a sense of injustice as a result of being treated less favourably.

Need advice? Get in touch today

Please call Nicola Robson on 01482 324252.

Or email Nicola here.

You can find out more about our Employment Law services here.

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