Injury to feelings
Under section 119 Equality Act 2010, an Employment Tribunal may award compensation for injury to feelings in a discrimination claim whether or not they award compensation under any other heads of loss. An injury to feelings claim is one that can be made as part of a discrimination claim but not an unfair dismissal claim. It is a claim for compensation for the upset, distress or anxiety that you have suffered as a result of discrimination.
Employment tribunals have a broad discretion as to the amount to award for injury to feelings, and their awards will only be overturned on appeal if they are totally mistaken.
In Prison Service and ors v Johnson 1997 (a race discrimination case), the Employment Appeal Tribunal summarised the general principles that underlie awards for injury to feelings:
- awards for injury to feelings are designed to compensate the injured party fully but not to punish the guilty party;
- an award should not be inflated by feelings of indignation at the guilty party’s conduct;
- awards should not be so low as to diminish respect for the policy of the discrimination legislation. On the other hand, awards should not be so excessive that they might be regarded as untaxed riches;
- awards should be broadly similar to the range of awards in personal injury cases;
- tribunals should bear in mind the value in everyday life of the sum they are contemplating, and
- tribunals should bear in mind the need for public respect for the level of the awards made.
The Vento Guidelands
Awards for injury to feelings tend to fall into ‘bands’, depending on the severity of the injury you have suffered. If you have been made very ill by the discrimination, you can also make a claim for personal injury in addition to a claim for injury to feelings.
In the case of Vento v Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police (No 2)  the Court of Appeal provided guidelines for these three broad bands of compensation for injury to feelings awards, as distinct from compensation awards for psychiatric or similar personal injury.
The lower band: "appropriate for less serious cases, such as where the act of discrimination is an isolated or one-off occurrence".
The middle band: "serious cases, which do not merit an award in the highest band".
The top band: "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 amount of money paid under each band is et every year by the President of the Employment Tribunals. The 2023 annual update to the Vento guidelines for claims presented on or after 6 April 2023 are:
- a lower band of £1,100 to £11,200 (less serious cases);
- a middle band of £11,200 to £33,700 (cases that do not merit an award in the upper band); and
- an upper band of £33,700 to £56,200 (the most serious cases), with the most exceptional cases capable of exceeding £56,200.
When you are preparing your schedule of loss for a discrimination claim, you must include an amount within the 3 bands and explain to the Employment Tribunal why you are claiming that amount under that specific band. Read the Presidential Guidance on Injury to feelings Awards (2017) together with the 2023 annual update to the Vento guidelines before you make your claim for injury to feelings.
Last Updated: [11/04/2023]