EAD Solicitors v Abrams: can a company bring a discrimination claim?

EAD Solicitors v Abrams: can a company bring a discrimination claim?

In EAD Solicitors v Abrams, the Employment Appeal Tribunal considered whether a limited company could benefit from the protection given to individuals under the Equality Act 2010.

The background

Mr Abrams was a member of EAD Solicitors, a limited liability partnership (LLP).

As he approached retirement he set up a service company, of which he was sole director.

This new limited company replaced him as a member of the LLP. But he continued to supply services through the limited company to the LLP.

A dispute arose about his retirement date, and arising out of that there was an allegation of age discrimination.

The decision

Obviously, EAD’s relationship was with the limited company. But the initial Employment Tribunal ruled that that didn’t stop a claim being brought.

The decision was appealed to the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) who agreed.

The EAT pointed out that just as a company or organisation can in effect be a discriminator so a company could bring a discrimination claim.

Ultimately, the law related to treatment that was ‘linked’ to a protected characteristic.

But it was not necessarily the case that the detriment had to be suffered by an actual person.

What this means for you

On one level, many employers have individuals who work on a consultancy basis. But where those arrangements are in reality simply them working through a service company or other such vehicle.

It needs to be remembered that those relationships don’t preclude discrimination claims.

On a wider level, the EAT considered other situations where this case might have potential implications.

For example, where one company wouldn’t do business with another because that second business had a workforce of a particular ethnicity.

Or where a company gave financial support to a particular political party (such as the BNP). Or simply where an organisation had an openly homosexual CEO.

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