The aim of encouraging a gender-balanced workforce is not a relevant consideration when deciding claims of indirect discrimination

November 10, 2016

Eirwen Pierrot writes for Discrimination Law Association Briefings 59 (November 2016) 812 on the case of XC Trains Ltd v CD, ASLEF and others [2016] IRLR 748 in which the claimant claimed that a requirement to work weekend shifts indirectly discriminated against women. The employment tribunal found that the requirement was not justified and was therefore discriminatory. However, on appeal the Employment Appeal Tribunal criticised the employment tribunal for focussing on the, albeit laudable, aim of encouraging a more gender-balanced workforce, rather than having regard to the appropriate question, namely whether the requirement was a proportionate response to the employer’s legitimate aim. In this case, the legitimate aim was not a “gender-balanced workforce” but the need to meet the demands of its service.