The last few weeks have seen some high profile Employment Tribunal claims hit the national headlines. These both involved claims against football clubs.
Footballer Jonas Gutierrez has won a claim for disability discrimination against Newcastle United Football Club.
The tribunal held that the club’s decision to not include Gutierrez in their plans for the club’s future was made based on Gutierrez’s cancer, contrary to Section 15 of the Equality Act 2010. The tribunal also found that the club had failed to make reasonable adjustments for Gutierrez, contrary to Section 21 of the Equality Act, as Gutierrez was only able to play 121 games whilst undergoing treatment for his cancer, instead of the 152 games needed to have his contract with the club extended.
However, the player’s claim for harassment under Section 26 of the Equality Act – that he had had to train and play with the under-21 team following his treatment – was dismissed by the tribunal on the ground that many players were required to play with the under-21s when returning to the club after an injury.
This case shows that football clubs have the same duties to their employees – the footballers – as any other employer would have, which highlights the range of situations and employer-employee relationships where discrimination occurs.
Further to this, Lucy Ward has successfully made a claim for sex discrimination against Leeds United Football Club, after being dismissed by the club from her role as an Education and Welfare Officer.
The club argued that the dismissal was made because Ward had attended the 2015 Women’s World Cup for the BBC, despite having already taken all of her annual leave, and for ‘repeatedly failing to work on a Wednesday.’ However, Ward successfully claimed that the club had given her their ‘full support’ regarding her work at the Women’s World Cup, that it had been agreed with her line manager that she worked from home on Wednesdays and that the reason behind her dismissal was in fact because she was the partner of the club’s ex-head coach Neil Redfearn.
Club Chairman Mr Cellino is alleged to have said that Ward and her partner came as ‘a pair’ and so Ward ‘had to go’, and that ‘football is no place for women; they should be in the bedroom or the beauticians’ – a shocking and discriminatory statement.
The tribunal held that Ward had been unfairly dismissed and discriminated against on the grounds of her sex, contrary to Section 13 of the Equality Act. Again, this case demonstrates the variety of discrimination claims that can arise, as well as exemplifying the importance of discrimination law in protecting all types of employees, wherever their workplace may be.
Howells Solicitors are here to help with any discrimination claims that you may have connected with your employment. If you feel you have been treated unfairly and want to discuss your options do not hesitate to contact us. For more information see equality and discrimination.