Sex Discrimination on the grounds of marital status

In the recent Employment Appeal case of Dunn V The Institute of Cemetery and crematorium Management, it was held that Section 3 of the Sex Discrimination Act (SDA) (as now amended and integrated into Section 8 of the Equality Act 2010) applied to less favourable treatment received because she is married to a particular man?

Section 3 of the SDA puts forward the right not to be treated less favourably than a person who is not married, or in a civil partnership. Mrs Dunn was married to Mr Dunn who also worked for the company.

Mrs Dunn was employed and tasked with setting up a new office in the north of the country. Whilst undertaking this task, she raised a grievance on the basis that the contractual sick pay was being amended. Her grievance subsequently failed, as did her appeal. Parallel to this taking place, her husband Mr Dunn was in dispute with the Chief Executive of the company, and it was felt that this had knock on effect on Mrs Dunnís grievance.

As a result Mrs Dunn was signed of sick, claiming to have been victimised and discriminated against. During this period, Mrs Dunns post was cut short and thus her post ended.

Mrs Dunn claimed that due to the continued dispute with her husband that she had been treated less favourable, as a measure of revenge. The employment Tribunal agreed that on the evidence, she has suffered less favourable treatment and Section 8 could be applied.


Published: 19 Dec 2011


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