Seven-year legal battle brings discrimination victory for dozens of civil servants


Seven-year legal battle brings discrimination victory for dozens of civil servants

Almost 50 civil servants who were discriminated against due to their race or age by the Home Office have together secured more than £1m in compensation following a tribunal hearing.

Scales of justice

This tribunal came about after a successful case taken by Prospect in 2012.

Prospect had won an employment tribunal claim against the Home Office for our member Graham Dean. The Home Office used a Core Skills Assessment (CSA) for determining promotion. Graham had failed the CSA test four times despite commendations for promotion from his managers.

The evidence showed that a disproportionate number of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) and older workers failed the test.

The employment tribunal ruled that Graham had been subjected to unlawful indirect discrimination on grounds of his race and age. Graham was then promoted without needing to complete the CSA and the CSA was changed for the future. But the change wasn’t applied to other staff, who had previously been affected by the test.

Forty seven further cases were presented by members of PCS and Prospect. PCS members, who were supported by Thompsons Solicitors, were the test cases.  

Despite having already lost the tribunal for Graham Dean, the Home Office robustly resisted the new claims. And the case went all the way to the Supreme Court (under the lead name of Essop & others).

The case was joined with Prospect’s Supreme Court case for Mohammad Naeem against the Prison Service, as both cases looked at what should be the correct approach for determining indirect discrimination.

The union cases won in the Supreme Court and the Home Office case was sent back to the employment tribunal for hearing.

The three-week hearing started on 18 March, but after the first couple of days the Home Office agreed to settle all the claims without admission of liability and to pay the 47 claimants £22,000 each – totalling more than £1m.

Nicola Braganza, of Garden Court Chambers, had been instructed by Prospect in Graham Dean’s case and continued to represent the members in the new claims.. 

Sue Ferns, senior deputy general secretary at Prospect, said: “The Home Office lost the original Prospect case for Graham Dean in 2012, but rather than recognise the strengths of the legal arguments against them, they fought on for seven years. It is shocking that they continued to use taxpayers’ money to fight this case so vigorously.

“We are very pleased that at last our member has been able to get the justice they deserved. This case again demonstrates how workers need to be members of a union like Prospect to make sure they can fight and win cases of discrimination at work.”

Kate Lea, the executive at Thompsons Solicitors who acted for the claimants, said: “This has been a long, hard fought battle where the union support, hard work of the barrister at Garden Court Chambers, Nicola Braganza and the resilience of the claimants has been extraordinary.”