Employment Law Update – Students on placements – Blackwood v Birmingham & Solihull Mental Health Foundation Trust.
The appeal against the Employment Appeal Tribunal’s decision to dismiss Miss Blackwood’s appeal is now likely to be heard by the Court of Appeal on 1st or 2nd July 2015. We hope that the court will provide guidance on the interpretation of section 56(5) Equality Act 2010 and the interrelationship between the employment and educational provisions under the Act.
The current Employment Appeal Tribunal’s decision, upholding the Tribunal’s decision at first instance, adds an additional layer to overcome for students on placement bringing a claim against the placement provider for breaches of the Equality Act 2010. Under the current interpretation, students are required to bring a claim in the County Court and argue that the University is liable for the acts of the service provider and that the service provider is an agent of the University. Such difficulties would not arise if students could bring a claim under Part 5 Equality Act in the Employment Tribunal. Under the current interpretation of section 56(5) some students on vocational placements may be prevented from having a remedy when they have been discriminated against by their placement providers.
Clarity of the law in this area is clearly needed and may require legislative changes, to prevent aggrieved students on placements from having additional hurdles to overcome in bringing claims under the Equality Act 2010, or from having no remedy at all.
Bailey Wright & Co