If people are going to get married, it is important that they choose the right partner. Blindingly obvious perhaps, but what has this got to do with employment? Potentially quite a lot, according to the Employment Appeal Tribunal in Dunn v Institute of Cemetery and Crematorium Management .
Mrs Dunn was employed by the Institute to establish a Northern office for them. Her husband also worked for the Institute and the relationship between Mr Dunn and the Chief Executive was reportedly strained. Mrs Dunn raised a grievance about changes to her contract and this was rejected. She then went off sick and alleged that this was because she was married to Mr Dunn, and subsequently resigned.
Mrs Dunn then brought claims in the Employment Tribunal alleging that her treatment was because of her marital status which was protected under the Sex Discrimination Act (now a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010). The Tribunal found that her treatment was not on the grounds of her marital status, but rather because of the individual she was married to. She appealed to the Employment Appeal Tribunal.
The Employment Appeal Tribunal allowed the appeal, holding that a person who is married (or in a civil partnership) is protected from discrimination on the grounds of that relationship.
Employers who adopt policies that, for example, married people may not work in the same department as their spouses, could well now fall foul of the law.
If you would like to talk through a situation you are dealing with, or if you need advice on any aspect of employment law, please contact any member of the Pure Employment Law team (01243 836840 or [email protected])