Incompetent handling of a grievance may be unreasonable but is not necessarily discrimination

24 March 2017

The question being asked in Kent Police v Bowler was, does the incompetent handling of a grievance and a lackadaisical attitude of the investigator sufficient to give rise to an inference of discrimination?

The Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) ruled that it was not.

The employment tribunal made a number of findings of discrimination and victimisation against the employer. The appeal focused on whether the employment tribunal made sufficient findings of facts to give rise to inferences of discrimination and victimisation.

The EAT reiterated the caution in Igen v Wong against too readily inferring discrimination merely from unreasonable conduct where there is no evidence of other discriminatory behaviour. Allowing the appeal in part, the EAT held that whilst the incompetent handling of the grievance process and a lackadaisical attitude of the grievance investigator was unreasonable, they were not sufficient findings in and of themselves to allow the employment tribunal to conclude that the investigator held a stereotypical view of the officer being oversensitive about being treated badly because of his race.

With thanks to Daniel Barnett’s employment law bulletin for providing this update.