Landmark win for Agency Workers

Agency workers look set to have a stronger outcome in future anti-discrimination cases now that a landmark ruling has been made by a tribunal which saw agency worker Ms Corinda Pegg win her battle over discrimination at work. Ms Pegg’s case was funded by the Equality and Human Rights Commission, which is the independent advocate for equality and human rights in Britain. The high profile case of Ms Corinda Pegg v London Borough of Camden was heard in September 2012 at an employment appeal tribunal. Ms Pegg was eventually awarded over £35,000 for disability discrimination and unfair dismissal. The case came under the Disability Discrimination Act (rather than the Equality Act 2010) since this was the law that applied at the time of the initial action.

Corinda Pegg was dismissed from her job after working for a period of 44 weeks, due to the amount of time she had been off work due to depression. After suffering a series of bereavements she missed a full week of work whilst receiving residential mental health care. After returning to work she failed to arrive punctually every day, and when asked for an explanation by her manager, explained that this was due to her disability.
A couple of months later Ms Pegg suffered a panic attack and was admitted to hospital. While recuperating at home in the days following the attack and while still undergoing medical care, she was notified by telephone that she had lost her job due to her poor attendance record and failure to be punctual. Despite her request that her medical condition be kept confidential, emails showed that her case had been discussed with a colleague, and that the possibility of ending her contract had been discussed before any questions had been put to her about her absence.
An important question clarified by this tribunal was whether the laws on equality and discrimination apply equally to agency workers who are supplied to a particular organisation. According to the judge, Ms Pegg was obligated to work for Camden council and therefore they were under a legal duty not to discriminate against her. Agency work is more commonplace than ever before, and so clarification on the legal rights of agency workers has been welcomed by many, with this case demonstrating that they are due exactly the same protection from discrimination as permanent employees would be.


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