Skip to main content
Global HR Lawyers

Assumptions and discrimination in the employment process

31 August 2019

The Court of Appeal has confirmed it was unlawful for a police officer to be refused a transfer because of a mistaken perception that her disability would affect her future performance. The ruling found that the Acting Chief Inspector of Norwich (ACI Hooper) had rejected Ms. Coffey’s transfer application based on the assumption that her hearing loss would render her incapable of successfully undertaking front-line duties, despite her experience as a front-line police officer for two years in Wiltshire, without any adjustments to the role.

The Court concluded that ACI Hooper’s decision was significantly influenced by stereotypical assumptions about the progressive effects of hearing loss, rather than being based on the things that she thought Ms. Coffey capable of, the things Ms. Coffey had proved to be capable of, and the recommendations of medical advisers.

The above is illustrative of how the assumptions we make about people can have both far-reaching and legal implications. Recently, unconscious bias has become something of a hot topic as society recognises that even the seemingly innocuous assumptions we make about an individual can sometimes have greater impact than more obvious and purposeful acts of discrimination, especially when they occur in spheres of power such a politics, education, and employment.

Making the effort to recognise that our assumptions have significant influence over our decisions and behaviour – even if we aren’t always aware of this influence – is the first step in challenging a bias culture.

There are many steps a person with employment responsibility can take to minimise the impact of bias on their decisions, unconscious or otherwise:

  1. Establish clear criteria before making employment decisions (hiring, promotion, transfer, compensation, etc.) so that bias is removed from the process, or is more easily recognisable when it exerts influence.
  2. Scrutinise the criteria to determine whether it unintentionally excludes certain candidates who might well succeed in the role.
  3. Train leadership and employees on awareness with an open dialogue, and enforce ongoing benchmarking against best practices.
  4. Pair training with best practices such as joint interviews of applicants and requirements that the diversity of prospects is considered.

Lewis Silkin LLP offers a number of relevant courses through our Worksphere service, including a Diversity Training course for HR, and an Unconcious Bias course or e-course for managers.

To find out more information, please visit /en/eir/services/hr-services/employment-law-training and take a look at our training services brochure.



控訴院は、女性警察官の障害が将来のパフォーマンスに影響を与えかねないという誤った認識のため、異動の機会を拒否されるは違法であると認めた。 判決によると、Norwich警察のHooper警部補は、Coffey警官が聴力障害を持ちながら、Wiltshire警察で役割を調整することなく最前線の警察官として2年間の経験があるにも関わらず、最前線の職務を首尾よく遂行することは難しいであろうという仮定に基づいて彼女の異動願を拒否した。


上記は、我々が人々に対して行う仮定がどれだけ広範囲に及び且つ法的影響を受けやすいかの一例である。 昨今、無意識の偏見は、特に政治、教育および雇用などの権力の領域で発生する場合、個人についての一見無害に見える仮定でさえ、より明白で意図的な差別行為よりも大きな影響を与える可能性があると社会が認識しているため、ホットな話題になっている。




  1. 基準の精査 -職務を全う出来る可能性のある特定の候補者が意図せずに除外されていないかどうかを判断する。
  2. リーダーシップと従業員の意識啓発 -率直な対話を意識し、優良プラクティスと比較したベンチマークの継続的設定
  3. ベストプラクティスとのペアトレーニング -合同面接や、多様な将来性を鑑みた要件など。

Lewis Silkin LLPは、Worksphereサービスを通じて人事のためのダイバーシティトレーニングコース、管理者のためのUnconcious Biasコースまたはeコースなど、多数の関連コースを提供しています。




Related items

Related services

Back To Top