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Reductions to Basic and Compensatory Awards

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Was it perverse to reduce a compensatory award by 35% but not also reduce the basic award?

Yes, held the Employment Appeal Tribunal in University of Sunderland v Drossou.

The Claimant was a Senior Lecturer and Programme Leader at the Respondent University. Following a restructure, she was dismissed due to an irretrievable breakdown in working relationships, for which the University said she was primarily responsible. She brought a claim of unfair dismissal (and other claims of race and disability discrimination).

The employment tribunal upheld the unfair dismissal claim, but decided that the Claimant was not wholly blameless - she was somewhere between partly and equally to blame. The compensatory award was reduced by 35%, but no reduction was made to the basic award. The University appealed.

The Employment Appeal Tribunal upheld the appeal, and reduced the basic award by 35%. In RSPCA v Cruden, the Court of Appeal had held that although the tests were different, only in exceptional cases would a differentiation between the two be justified. Since the tribunal found that the Claimant's conduct had caused or contributed to her dismissal and reduced the compensatory award, the Employment Appeal Tribunal held that it would be perverse not to reduce the basic award to the same extent.

Thanks to James English of Hempsons solicitors for preparing this case summary