Burden of proof in discrimination claims
Tuesday 22nd August 2017
The EAT has held, in Efobi v Royal Mail Group Ltd, that the Equality Act does not require a claimant to show an initial prima facie case. Instead, it is for the ET to consider all the evidence it has heard and decide if there are facts from which it can infer discrimination. If there are, and there is no explanation, the claim must be upheld.
Mr Efobi’s complaint centred on his numerous unsuccessful applications for an IT role, which he claimed were rejected on the grounds of his race. His claim was not upheld and he appealed, arguing that the ET had applied the burden of proof incorrectly.
On an analysis of the statutory provisions, the EAT decided that they placed no initial burden on a claimant and that using terminology such as a “shifting” of the burden of proof was misleading. The EAT noted that its decision was contrary to the explanatory notes to the EqA, but stated that the language of the statute was determinative. The EAT also acknowledged that its decision departed from previous case law on how the burden of proof was interpreted, but those decisions related to the statutory provisions in force at the time, which predated the EqA and were drafted in different terms.
The case was remitted to a different ET to decide whether Mr Efobi’s claim of race discrimination was made out.
All information in this update is intended for general guidance only and is not intended to be comprehensive, or to provide legal advice.