SECONDARY INDIRECT DISCRIMINATION WHEN FORCING EMPLOYEES TO COME BACK TO THE OFFICE
Written by Charlie Palmer on 22/11/2021


For the first time, an employment tribunal has decided that indirect discrimination can occur even when the employee isn’t disadvantaged or in a minority with a protected characteristic. 

Following a recent case, Follows v Nationwide Building Society a senior lending manager was based from home due to caring for her disabled mother.  

During a redundancy process, the employer decided all senior lending managers must be office-based due to a change in nature of the work and the need for staff supervision.   During consultation, Ms Follows stated that she would be unable to do this, and as a result she was dismissed. 

The employer was found to be liable for unfair dismissal, indirect disability discrimination and indirect sex discrimination.   Pay attention to the individual circumstances of staff to address any barriers to their return to the office, and consider what is reasonable.   Common sense dictates what is reasonable.  In this case the burden of reasonable included the fact that this arrangement had gone on for seven years already. 


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