Weathersfield Ltd (T/a Van and Truck Rentals) v Sargent: CA 10 Dec 1998

The employer, a vehicle hire operator, explained to the Claimant employee following her appointment as a receptionist their policy that if she received an enquiry from any coloured or Asians, judging by their voices, she was to tell them that there were no vehicles available. Upset by that policy she promptly resigned, and later claimed constructive dismissal.
Held: The employer’s appeal failed. An employee leaving without stating the reason for his dismissal need not always be debarred from claiming constructive dismissal, though the acceptance of repudiation should normally be communicated. Racial Discrimination isn’t solely directed at complainant. The applicant who had been dismissed for refusing to implement a racially discriminatory trading policy had been discriminated against on racial grounds. Pill LJ said: the words on ‘racial grounds’ were to be broadly construed; and it was ‘justified and appropriate’ to give a broad meaning to the expression racial grounds. Swinton Thomas LJ thought that there was value in the respondent’s submission that s1(1)(a) might have been intended to be limited to the race of the complainant, but then rejected that proposition, and accepted the Showboat principle of the broad construction of ‘racial grounds’: ‘I do not think that it is helpful in a case such as this to try and ascertain the intention of a draftsman of the Act, or the intention of Parliament, because it seems to me to be unlikely that the circumstances that arise in this case were considered either by the draftsman or by Parliament. In my judgment it is more helpful to focus on the intention underlining the Act itself and the words used. The intent of the Act is to deter racial discrimination . . ‘


Pill LJ, Swinton Thomas LJ and Beldam LJ


Times 31-Dec-1998, Gazette 03-Feb-1999, [1998] EWCA Civ 1938, [1999] ICR 425, [1999] IRLR 94, [1999] Disc LR 290




Race Relations Act 1976


England and Wales


ApprovedShowboat Entertainment Centre v Owens EAT 28-Oct-1983
The employer had dismissed an employee who had refused to comply with a discriminatory instruction by the employer to exclude blacks from the employer’s amusement centre. The tribunal at first instance had found that that was a dismissal ‘on racial . .
Appeal fromWeathersfield Ltd (T/A Van and Truck Rentals) v Sargent EAT 6-Jun-1997
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Cited by:

CitedMacDonald v Advocate General for Scotland (Scotland); Pearce v Governing Body of Mayfield School HL 19-Jun-2003
Three appeals raised issues about the way in which sex discrimination laws were to be applied for cases involving sexual orientation.
Held: The court should start by asking what gave rise to the act complained of. In this case it was the . .
CitedA C Redfearn v Serco Ltd T/A West Yorkshire Transport Service EAT 27-Jul-2005
The claimant said that he had been indirectly discriminated against on racial grounds. He was dismissed after being elected as a local councillor for the BNP. The employer considered that for Health and Safety reasons, his dismissal was necessary . .
CitedEnglish v Thomas Sanderson Ltd CA 19-Dec-2008
The claimant appealed dismissal of his claim for harrassment and sex discrimination. Though heterosexual, he had been subject to persistent jokes that he was homosexual. The court first asked whether the alleged conduct was ‘on the grounds of sexual . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Employment, Discrimination

Updated: 30 May 2022; Ref: scu.145417