The President of the Employment Tribunals has recently confirmed an increase in the compensation bands (known as the Vento bands) awarded for injury to feelings in discrimination cases.
In discrimination claims, claimants can seek an award for injury to feelings as well as compensation for financial loss. Guidelines for the amount of compensation to be given for injury to feelings were set out in the key case of Vento v Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police. This case set out three bands of potential awards:
- An award in the lower band would be "appropriate for less serious cases, such as where the act of discrimination is an isolated or one off occurrence".
- An award in the middle band "should be used for serious cases, which do not merit an award in the highest band”.
- An award in the top band would be made "in the most serious cases, such as where there has been a lengthy campaign of discriminatory harassment on the ground of sex or race". Only in "the most exceptional case" should an award for injury to feelings exceed the top of this band.
The ‘Vento’ bands were increased in line with inflation in 2009, but have recently been increased by a further 10% so they correspond to the amount that would be awarded in the county court.
For cases presented on or after 11 September 2017 the ‘Vento’ bands are now as follows:
- lower band: £800 to £8,400
- middle band: £8,400 to £25,200
- upper band: £25,000 to £42,000
This is a useful clarification of the current level of injury to feelings awards. Ultimately, the employment tribunal still retains its discretion to select the appropriate band when making an award and to decide the level of the award within that band taking into account, amongst other things, the seriousness of the treatment and the degree of distress caused.