What Is Injury To Feelings?

27th October 2016
Share this post:

Injury to feelings is a category of award made by employment tribunals in successful discrimination and whistleblowing cases.

It is monetary compensation for non-economic loss  and is intended to compensate for the anger, distress and upset caused by the unlawful treatment.  It is compensatory, not punitive and the employment tribunal has a broad discretion of what level of award to make.  The tribunal will need to hear evidence from the claimant about the effect and impact the unlawful treatment had.

coins

The level of award will generally range from £811 to £48,640, (reflecting inflation over the years).  The courts have provided guidelines, known as ‘Vento bands’ (taken from the name of the case where they originated).

What Are the Three Vento bands?

The three Vento bands are simply: top, middle and bottom.  The top band is for the most serious cases, such as where there has been a lengthy campaign of harassment.  Awards can exceed this only in the most exceptional cases.  The middle band is for serious cases which do not merit an award in the highest band.  The bottom band is for less serious cases, such as a one-off incident or an isolated event.

The Vento categorisation may provide a useful shorthand when discussing injuries to feelings but are not particularly helpful.  It is often obvious when conduct is at one end or the other of the spectrum, but when it is less clear-cut it can be more difficult.  Is it conduct falling at the higher end of the bottom band (£8,000), in the middle band (mid-point  £16,200) or at the lower end of the top band (24,300)?  That said, tribunals do have a high degree of flexibility.

It could make a huge difference if the band was incorrectly categorised or conceded.  It is also very difficult to appeal injury to feeling awards, unless the tribunal has: acted on an incorrect principle of law; has misapprehended the facts; or, made a wholly erroneous estimate of the loss suffered.

Victoria Wright    |    01273 249277    |    vjw@deanwilson.co.uk