Direct discrimination against a company

Traveller Movement and others v JD Wetherspoon Plc [2015] 2CL01225

The Facts

The annual conference of a charitable company limited by guarantee (the Traveller Movement) was held close to a pub in Holloway, London. Upon learning of the conference, the pub landlord asked security staff to exclude ‘large groups’ of individuals in order to avoid trouble.

The security staff refused to admit a group of individuals and lone individuals who had attended the annual conference. Groups of up to 4 people who had not attended the conference were allowed to enter the pub.

Those who were refused entry were of Irish Traveller origin, Roman Gypsy origin and some were neither. These individuals claimed that they had been directly discriminated against and sought compensation for aggravated damages and injury to feelings.

The Decision

It was held that a corporate body could claim for direct discrimination, but not for damages for injury to feelings. Both the limited company and the individuals had therefore been directly discriminated against; but no case was made for aggravated damages.  The individuals recovered £3 000 for injured feelings.

Discussion

Despite seeming incapable of having characteristics which could be discriminated against, the company was still able to claim for damages relating to direct discrimination. It is therefore suggested that a company may be seen to have the characteristics of the individuals it represents, and conduct towards those individuals may be seen to be conduct towards the company itself.