13 Sep 2019

UK Sex Discrimination Tribunal Awards

'White males can increasingly expect to be refused advancement based purely on sex or race'
By MRA-UK: In this post I present statistics relating to employment tribunals for claims of discrimination on grounds of sex.
My thanks to Douglas for providing the data on the compensation payments awarded, by sex, for successful cases. I was surprised that the numbers of successful claims were so small. It turns out that the number of cases brought forward is far, far larger, but only a tiny percentage result in a hearing which is successful.
The volume of cases brought and their outcomes are provided by the MOJ dataset “Tribunal Statistics Quarterly: April to June 2019”.
The data on awards provided by Douglas derive from this FOI and also this one, plus a Parliamentary request recorded in Hansard.
Figure 1 shows the dramatic fall in sex discrimination tribunal cases over the last 12 years, the number in 2018/19 being only one-quarter of the number in 2007/8 (about 4,000 compared with about 16,000). Part of the reason for this fall was the introduction of fees in July 2013. These fees were substantial, between several hundred pounds and over a thousand pounds.
It is reasonable to assume this would deter some people from bringing cases. There is indeed a fall in cases between 2013/14 and 2014/15 in Figure 1 but this reduction is nowhere near as severe as that which occurred in other (non-sex) employment tribunals.
These tribunal fees persisted only for 4 years, the Supreme Court ruling they were illegal in July 2017, whereupon they were scrapped. Notwithstanding that, there has been no tendency for the number of sex discrimination cases to return to their earlier level. Whilst there were marginally more cases in 2017/18 than in 2016/17, in 2018/19 the number is at an all-time low. Consequently, there appears to be a genuine reduction in underlying incidence, and the dramatic fall in cases is clearly not merely a result of the temporary introduction of fees.
Figure 1
Unfortunately, the MOJ data on claims are not disaggregated by sex. However, Figure 2 shows the compensation payments by sex. The awards were overwhelmingly made to women. (Inevitably one wonders if the claims are as skewed by sex). Figure 2 also shows the dramatic reduction in the number of monetary awards. This is even more marked than the reduction in cases brought (Figure 1). There were 175 monetary awards in 2008/9 (of which 11 were to men). This fell to only 19 awards in 2018/19 (of which none were to men).
Figure 2




Comparing Figures 1 and 2 implies that only a tiny percentage of claims result in monetary awards. This is confirmed by Figure 3 which shows the outcomes from the tribunals. Figure 3




On average over the last 11 years, 71% of sex discrimination claims have either been withdrawn, or “struck-out”, or dismissed after a preliminary hearing. The bulk of the remainder (24%) were addressed by ACAS “Conciliated Settlements”, which I presume must rarely involve monetary awards (in order to be consistent with Figure 2). A tribunal hearing was held for only 5% of sex discrimination claims, 3% unsuccessful and 2% successful. Hence, the monetary awards indicated by Figure 2 will relate largely to the latter 2%. Possibly it is the very low likelihood of monetary compensation that is driving the rapid reduction in numbers of claims (though, for some people, the non-monetary ruling obtained under an ACAS “Conciliated Settlement” may be the more desirable outcome). However, a small number of people “win big”, as illustrated by Figure 4 which shows the maximum award made in each year. It is women who tend to get the really big six-figure awards, but there are very few of these. As regards the average award per year, there is little difference between the sexes (Figure 5). Averaging the awards to men in years 2015/16 and 2016/17 makes this equity clearer.
Figure 4




Figure 5




However, there are far more monetary awards made to women than to men for sex discrimination (Figure 2) and this applies at every award level, from less than £1000 to more than £50,000 (Figure 6). Figure 6




ConclusionsThe number of claims to a tribunal for sex discrimination at work has been falling dramatically (Figures 1 and 2). This appears to be either a genuine reduction in incidence, or possibly due to the low probability of an outcome favourable to the complainant, but not a result of the temporary introduction of fees.
On average over the last 11 years, 71% of sex discrimination claims have either been withdrawn, or “struck-out”, or dismissed after a preliminary hearing.
24% of cases were addressed by ACAS “Conciliated Settlements”, but hearings were held for only 5% of sex discrimination claims, 3% being unsuccessful and 2% successful.
On average fewer than 2% of sex discrimination claims result in a monetary award.
Does the far larger number of monetary awards for sex discrimination to women, rather than to men, reflect a genuinely higher incidence of sex discrimination against women in the workplace? Or does it reflect the relative propensity of the two sexes to perceive discrimination and/or to make a formal claim of discrimination? The data do not tell us.
It would be of interest to acquire the data on claims disaggregated by sex. Is this as skewed by sex as the award data?
Whatever the current situation, with diversity policies now being driven hard across many major employers, white males can increasingly expect to be refused advancement based purely on sex or race. The incidence of men making sex (or race) discrimination claims may be set to increase. 

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