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Discrimination: Injury to Feelings

We are Discrimination and Injury to Feelings Solicitors:

When do Tribunals make awards for ‘Injury to Feelings’, and how much will they give the Claimant?

Awards for ‘Injury to Feelings’ can be made by a Tribunal when there has been direct statutory discrimination. In practice this means when a Tribunal makes a finding of unlawful discrimination, harassment or victimisation on the grounds of the Protected Characteristics of age, race / nationality, sex, disability, sexual orientation, or religious belief etc under the Equality Act 2010.


A similar award of ‘detriment’ can also be made when an employee has been subject to a detriment as a result of making a ‘protected disclosure’ under the so called whistleblowers act (incorporated into the Employment Rights Act 1996). However awards of injury to feelings cannot currently be made in claims of unfair dismissal, even if someone is forced out of a job as a result of bullying. There may be other avenues open to the Claimant, for example a claim under the Protection from Harassment Act or for psychological damage.


It will up to the Tribunal to assess the actual injury to feelings to the Claimant in the particular case. No two people will take something the same way and equally it can be difficult to guess the amount an Employment Tribunal might award for injury to feelings.


Guidance was given on awards for injury to feeings in Vento v Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police, in 2002, and that guidance was updated in Da’Bell v NSPCC by the EAT in 2010 stating that the Vento guidelines, used to assess compensation for injury to feelings in discrimination cases, should be up-rated to take account of inflation. The Vento guidelines in line with the Retail Prices Index have therefore been revised as follows:


  • the bottom band rises up to £6,000 (was £5,000); Appropriate for less serious cases, such as where the act of discrimination is an isolated or one off occurrence.
  • the middle band rises to up to £18,000 (was £15,000); For serious cases, which do not merit an award in the highest band.
  • the upper limit rises to up to £30,000 (was £25,000) Sums in this range should be awarded in the most serious cases, such as where there has been a lengthy campaign of unlawful discriminatory harassment. Only in the most exceptional case should an award of compensation for injury to feelings exceed this upper limit.


Frankly, what a Tribunal will award for injury to feelings is often a bit of a lottery. Claimants will often claim as much as they can. They may not get it though. It appears that most awards are for less than. In one reported case in 2005, Greig –v- Initial Security Ltd, the Scottish EAT indicated that there was no reason why awards for injury to feelings could not be less than £500, though the practice does appear to have arisen of awarding at least £500.

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