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Injury to Feelings

In discrimination cases the assessment of compensation can include an amount for the injury to feelings suffered by the victim. The aim of this is to compensate for the anger, upset and humiliation caused by the fact that the victim knows that he/she has been the subject of discrimination. This does not need to result in any actual physical injury at all.

The courts have given some guidance in assessing the level of compensation for injury to feelings. There are known as the “vento guidelines” after the case in which the guidance was given. Three “bands” were originally set:-

  1. At the very lowest of £500 up to £5,000. This covers “one-off” incidents, or genuinely less serious cases.
  2. From £5,000 to £15,000. This is for the more serious cases, and
  3. From £15,000 to approximately £25,000 is the highest band. This covers such serious cases that involve a lengthy campaign of discrimination.

The Employment Appeals Tribunal reviewed these limits in September 2009 to take inflation over the last few years into account. Therefore the relevant upper limit of each band is as follows:-

    1. Lower band  now up to £6,000.
    2. Middle band  now up to £18,000.
    3. Upper band now up to £30,000.

These awards are in addition to any other clearly consequential financial losses suffered (i.e. loss of income and benefits), and in addition to any personal injury award that may be made.

The House of Lords has confirmed that in cases of unfair dismissal, that do not involve unlawful discrimination, that specific awards for injury to feelings are not available.

It is very difficult to predict the size of award in any particular case, but these figures illustrate the need for employers to take issues of discrimination very seriously, and ensure that they implement and train staff in dealing with issues and allegations of discrimination through appropriate policies. (see link to Equal Opportunities Policy PAYG)


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