Pay Disparities Are Not Always Discriminatory

Statistical disparities in pay are not always a sign of discrimination. In one important case which proved that point, a Muslim prison chaplain who pointed out that he and his co-religionist colleagues were on average paid less than their Church of England counterparts failed to establish that he had been treated unequally.

In seeking compensation from the Home Office, the cleric’s lawyers argued that religious and race discrimination could be inferred from the difference in pay and the fact that Anglican chaplains are predominantly white. They received an average basic salary of £33,811, whereas their Muslim colleagues were paid an average of £31,847. Those arguments, however, fell on fallow ground before an Employment Tribunal and the Employment Appeal Tribunal.

In dismissing the cleric’s challenge to the latter decision, the Court of Appeal found that the pay differential was a product, not of discrimination, but of the complex system of pay scales operated by HM Prison Service. Pay rises largely depended upon length of service and the statistical difference was due to the fact that Muslim prison chaplains were not appointed to full time posts until 2002.

Industrial Espionage Claim Leads to £275,000 Payout

Employees sadly cannot always be trusted and industrial espionage is a threat which cannot be ignored. In one case, a company received £275,000 in damages and legal costs after a disloyal worker abused her position to disperse confidential and commercially sensitive information to others.

The company for which the woman worked (company A) became suspicious after she resigned at a time which appeared to be designed to cause maximum disruption. It employed specialists in computer forensics to interrogate her laptop and mobile phone and they were alleged to have uncovered extensive evidence of unlawful conduct.

Company A launched proceedings against the woman and company B, which was said to have encouraged the leaks and conspired with her in an attempt to divert away her employer’s business. After an injunction was obtained against them and a speedy trial ordered, the woman and company B consented to a settlement of the case.

Company B agreed to pay £176,000 in damages and £99,000 in legal costs. The woman made full admissions that she had breached her duties of good faith and fidelity and submitted to judgment. The damages payable by her have yet to be assessed. Proceedings against another company were blocked by the High Court on the basis that company A’s claim had been satisfied by the settlement.