Direct discrimination: Appropriate forum to hear discrimination claims for work placements
In Blackwood v Birmingham & Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust  EWCA Civ 607 a university student who was required to undertake placements as part of her course claimed to have suffered sexual discrimination and sought to bring a claim in the employment tribunal when her placement was withdrawn due to her not working nights after having had a baby. This raised the question of whether such a claim should have been brought as a claim to the employment tribunal under Part 5 of the Equality Act 2010 as discrimination suffered during the course of her work, or brought as a claim to the County Court under Part 6 as discrimination suffered during her education.
Both the ET and the EAT held that s.56 of the Equality Act provided that s.55, on which her claim was based, meant that s.55 did not apply in relation to the training of students at a university over which it had power to afford access, therefore they had no jurisdiction and each dismissed the claim, on the basis it should have been brought in the County Court.
On appeal to the Court of Appeal, the Court held that a student could bring a claim in the ET directly against the provider of the work placement because there was clearly a gap in the law under the Equality Act as currently drafted and, as such, the Court wrote words into s.56(5) to allow a student to bring a claim in the tribunal against the placement provider for discrimination suffered whilst on a work placement. It went on to confirm that the County Court was the correct place to bring a claim against the education provider for discrimination suffered in relation to providing training or work placements.
Published: 25 July 2016