An Employment Tribunal can award an injury to feelings award in successful discrimination cases. An injury to feelings award is a similar style award to a general damages award recovered in a personal injury case. The award is not linked to a claimant’s actual financial loss and therefore an employee can recover compensation for injured feelings when there has been no loss at all. This is an interesting case as it reaffirms that the award is not intended to be punitive but compensatory and that injury to feelings awards are subject to a 10% uplift following the Court of Appeal’s decision in Simmons v Castle (a personal injury claim).
Compensation not punitive
The injury to feelings awards range from £660 to £33,000 and are broken down into bands called Vento bands (£660 – £6,600 (lower Vento band) £6,600 to £19,800 (middle Vento band) £19,800 to £33,000 (higher Vento band). The level of the award depends on a number of factors. Some examples of the factors which tribunals have taken into account are:
Personal characteristics. If a claimant reacted to the discrimination more severely than others, then this should be accounted for regardless of whether the discrimination could be viewed “objectively” as less serious.
Any medical condition from which the claimant is suffering.
Factors such as panic attacks, stress, loss of confidence and interference with personal relationships.
The nature of the claimant’s job.
The manner in which the respondent dealt with any grievance brought by the claimant.