This case concerns a woman who claimed to have been treated less favourably by her employer because she was married. Whilst the facts of the case in Dunn – v The Institute of Cemetery and Crematorium Management are complex, a distillation of the findings of the Employment Appeal Tribunal demonstrate that treating someone less favourably because they are married to a specific person can amount to discrimination against married persons.

Mrs Dunn said she had been less favourably treated because she was married. Whilst less favourable treatment was not admitted by the Institute, the Tribunal which heard the case found that there had in fact been less favourable treatment and it was because Mrs Dunn was married to Mr Dunn who was in dispute with the Institute. The original Tribunal therefore found that there was no discrimination on the basis of her married status because there wouldn’t have been less favourable treatment if she had been married to someone else ie: someone not in dispute with the Institute, so the issue was not the marriage, but the identity of her husband, and that wasn’t discriminatory.

Wrong said the EAT, which found that the Institute had in effect treated Mrs Dunn as an adjunct to her husband and as such the less favourable treatment she had been subjected to was because she was a married person. Accordingly it was discriminatory.

So it seems that Mrs Dunn had her husband to thank and to blame all at the same time. Were it ever thus.

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