Gay church employee succeeds in discrimination claim

Stephen Price, an openly-gay practising Christian, won his tribunal claim against the Presbyterian Church in Wales. A BBC report and ‘steps-of-the-tribunal’ interview is here.

Although it’s an obvious headline-grabber there’s not much surprising here legally; once the tribunal had come to the decision that Price had suffered serious name-calling, bullying at the hands of his awful sounding manager, and an ‘incompetent’ subsequent investigation by the Church authorities.

Guidance on injury to feelings awards is always useful however, and the tribunal here awarded £25,000. This is (more or less) the most that tribunals should award except where a case is exceptional. The guidance on these awards came from the Court of Appeal in 2002, who directed as follows:

i) The top band should normally be between £15,000 and £25,000. Sums in this range should be awarded in the most serious cases, such as where there has been a lengthy campaign of discriminatory harassment on the ground of sex or race. This case falls within that band. Only in the most exceptional case should an award of compensation for injury to feelings exceed £25,000.

ii) The middle band of between £5,000 and £15,000 should be used for serious cases, which do not merit an award in the highest band.

iii) Awards of between £500 and £5,000 are appropriate for less serious cases, such as where the act of discrimination is an isolated or one off occurrence. In general, awards of less than £500 are to be avoided altogether, as they risk being regarded as so low as not to be a proper recognition of injury to feelings.

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