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Is a tribunal permitted to look behind the decision-maker’s motivation in a discrimination case and take account of the motivation of other employees who were only indirectly involved?

No, held the EAT in Alcedo Orange Ltd v Ferridge-Gunn.

In this case, the Claimant was dismissed shortly after telling her manager she was pregnant. The dismissing officer relied on information he had been provided with by her manager in deciding to dismiss. The tribunal concluded that the manager had been motivated by the Claimant’s pregnancy in the way in which she presented this information to the dismissing officer (who then relied on it to dismiss) and that she had been dismissed for pregnancy-related reasons.

The EAT disagreed and remitted the case back to the tribunal. The EAT held, applying the Court of Appeal case of Reynolds v CLFIS (UK) Limited, that when deciding whether an individual has been dismissed for a discriminatory reason, a tribunal should only consider the motivation of the person who makes the decision to dismiss, not other employees who may be indirectly involved. This decision in the context of a discriminatory dismissal can be contrasted with the position in whistleblowing cases set out in Royal Mail Group v Jhuti where it was held that, in exceptional cases, it is possible to look behind the motivation of the decision-maker who dismissed an employee and consider the influence of others who may have been motivated by the employee’s status as a whistleblower.