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Employment Law Case Update: AA Solicitors Ltd and another v Majid

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Ms Majid was undertaking her legal practice course in order to become a solicitor. She started work in 2013 at AA Solicitors.

Ms Majid was employed by the practice for a period of six weeks and in that time claimed that she was subjected to 40 or more acts of sexual harassment by Mr Ali, the sole solicitor in the practice.

The harassment included attempts to hug her and invite her to the cinema. She also said that he suggested a bed should be installed in the office. Ms Majid stated that these acts made her feel uncomfortable and after declining Mr Ali’s advances, she was subject to a redundancy process and was dismissed.

Ms Majid made a claim for sexual harassment against AA Solicitors and Mr Ali. The Employment Tribunal found that Mr Ali had made numerous sexual advances towards Ms Majid and as such abused his authority and exploited her vulnerability. The tribunal stated that her selection for redundancy had not been on genuine grounds.

The tribunal awarded compensation to Ms Majid as evidence shows that she had suffered from stress and anxiety and the actions of Mr Ali had exacerbated her irritable bowel syndrome. She was therefore awarded £2,111 for loss of earnings, £14,000 compensation for injury to feelings and £4,000 in aggravated damages.

The tribunal awarded a ten per cent uplift in the injury to feelings award because of inflation and held that the case fell within the middle of the three Vento bands.

AA solicitors appealed the injury to feelings award and stated that it was “manifestly excessive”. The respondent felt that the award should have been towards the lower end of the band and in the region of £10,000. 

The EAT held that it would be rare to have a successful appeal that a tribunal selected the wrong point in a Vento band. It stated that whilst a different tribunal may have made an award at the lower end of the band, it upheld the original award of £14,000 for injury to feelings. The EAT also held that the tribunal had the advantage of hearing all the evidence in the case and was best placed to make an assessment of the award.

This case illustrates that the EAT will be reluctant to change the level of an award for injury to feelings unless it views the award as excessively high or low. It also states that any award in accordance with the Vento bands can have an increase of ten per cent applied to account for inflation. 

This article is from our weekly Employment Law Newsletter published on 24/11/2016.  If you would like to receive this newsletter directly and be kept up to date with recent cases and Employment Law news, email events@warnergoodman.co.uk.

ENDS

This is for information purposes only and is no substitute for, and should not be interpreted as, legal advice.  All content was correct at the time of publishing and we cannot be held responsible for any changes that may invalidate this article.