Motive is no Defence

David Reid
14th Sep 2009

The recent case from Employment Tribunal sends warning to employers who deal with sensitive issues involving employees who fall into a protected category under discrimination law.

Employment equality act


The Employment Appeal Tribunal in the case of Amnesty International v Ahmed [2009] UKEAT 0447_08_1308 has upheld the Employment Tribunal’s finding that a well-intentioned motive does not provide an employer with a defence to a claim of race discrimination.

Miss Ahmed was of Northern Sudanese origin. She applied for a promotion to the post of researcher for Sudan with Amnesty International. Amnesty International was of the view that being appointed to the post may put Miss Ahmed and her colleagues in increased danger. They rejected Miss Ahmed’s application for the promotion and Miss Ahmed brought tribunal proceedings, including a claim for race discrimination.

The Employment Tribunal determined that Amnesty International had discriminated against Miss Ahmed on the ground of her race as it was because of her race that she had not been successful in her application for promotion. They found that Amnesty’s well-intentioned motive provided no defence as direct discrimination cannot be justified in law.

In its Judgment the Employment Appeal Tribunal upheld that decision. It was concluded that it does not matter whether discrimination is intentional or unintentional: discrimination is discrimination. Even though an employer may have good intentions this is not a defence.


To view the full text of the judgement click here.

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