Naomi Cunningham has specialised in discrimination law, mainly but not exclusively in the employment context, throughout her career.

In recent years, Naomi has developed a particular interest in the interaction between the Equality Act and the Gender Recognition Act, gender reassignment discrimination, the single-sex exceptions in the Equality Act, and the public sector equality duty. She gave evidence to the Women and Equalities Select Committee on reform of the GRA in February 2021, to the Equalities, Human Rights and Civil Justice Committee of the Scottish Parliament in June 2022, and again to the Women and Equalities Select Committee at Westminster in January 2023.

Her public law work in the area includes Fair Play For Women’s successful judicial review of ONS guidance on the sex question in the 2021 Census, a challenge to the lawfulness of the EHRC’s Code of Practice in AEA v EHRC, FOIA appeals involving information held by the Judicial College and the Crown Prosecution Service, and several substantial pieces of advice for government and major public bodies.

Naomi was named The Times Lawyer of the Week in May 2024 for her success in Meade v Westminster City Council and Social Work England, in which she secured exemplary damages against the regulator, which had “allowed its processes to be subverted to punish and supress the Claimant’s lawful political speech”. The following week, the Edinburgh Employment Tribunal handed down its judgment in Adams v Edinburgh Rape Crisis Centre, finding that Naomi’s client had been subjected to a “heresy hunt” orchestrated by the Centre’s CEO. Current instructions include a challenge by the makers of the film Adult Human Female to their trade union, UCU, over the union’s support for protests that have twice prevented the showing of the film at Edinburgh University, a challenge to an NHS trust’s policy of permitting a trans-identifying male employee to use women’s changing rooms, and a complaint of discrimination on grounds of protected gender-critical belief against a major publishing house.

Naomi’s popular and practical guide to employment tribunal proceedings, Employment Tribunal Claims: tactics and precedents (2nd-4th editions co-authored by Michael Reed) is still widely valued by everyone from litigants in person to judges.

Naomi also blogs regularly on the law at www.legalfeminist.org.uk. Her blog post on preparing a decent hearing bundle has been described by some (who should perhaps get out more) as “life-changing”.

Naomi is chair of the human rights charity Sex Matters. She was named by The Lawyer as one of their “Hot 100” for 2022.

Expertise

Naomi is an experienced and sought after barrister, instructed by claimants and respondents in individual and multiparty claims, across a broad range of employment law issues.

Notable Employment & Discrimination cases


Asda Stores Ltd v Brierley and others [2021] UKSC 10

Element & ors v Tesco Stores Ltd (C-624/19)

Brierley & ors v Asda; Ahmed & ors v Sainsburys & anr; Fenton & ors v Asda [2019] EWCA Civ 8

Mansfield v Taran Microsystems Limited UKEAT/0307/17

Burdis v Dorset County Council UKEAT/0084/18

Awan v ICTS UK Limited UKEAT/0087/18/RN

Mbubaegbu v Homerton University Hospital NHS Trust UKEAT/0218/17/JOJ

Premachandra v HBOS PLC UKEAT/0090/15/RN

Azam v Ofqual UKEAT/0407/14/JOJ

Ros v Brighton & Hove City Council & others UKEAT/0176/13

Aspire Defence Services Limited v Hutchings UKEAT/0442/12/LA

Osoba v Chief Constable of the Hertfordshire Constabulary UKEAT/0055/13/BA

Lipinski v Ebbsfleet Autospray Centre Limited UKEAT/0288/12/JOJ

Governing Body of St Andrew’s Catholic Primary School & ors v Blundell UKEAT/0259/12/RN

London City Airport Limited v Chacko UKEAT/0013/13

Birmingham City Council v Akhtar & ors EWCA Civ 585

Dziedziak v Future Electronics Limited UKEAT/0270/11/ZT

Segor v Gooodrich Actuation Systems Limited UKEAT/0145/11

Mckerrow v The Princess Alexandra Hospital NHS Trust UKEAT/0387/11

Hamilton & ors v NHS Grampian UKEATS/0067/10/BI

Whether section 11 of the ERA can be used to determine the existence of an implied term; determination on a point of law without hearing evidence; costs

NHS Leeds v Larner UKEAT/0088/11/CEA

Whether an employee on long-term sick leave must take steps to exercise her right to annual leave in order to be entitled to holiday pay.

Compass Group PLC v Ayodele UKEAT/0484/10/SM

The scope of an employer’s obligation to consider a request not to retire.

Hussain v Acorn Independent College Ltd [2011] I.R.L.R. 463, EAT

Temporary cessation of work; whether temporary cover provided by a teacher counted towards his continuous service.

St Andrew’s Catholic Primary School v Blundell [2011] EWCA Civ 427

New evidence on appeal; application of rule in Ladd v Marshall.

Vickers v London Fire and Emergency Planning [2010] EWHC 1855 (QB)

Meaning of ‘unable to drive for genuine reasons’ in firefighters’ contract.

Blundell v Governing Body of St Andrew’s Catholic Primary School [2007] ICR 1451, EAT

The first appeal case on the definition of the ‘job’ to which a woman has the right to return following maternity leave.

Moyhing v Barts & the London NHS Trust [2006] IRLR 860, EAT

Sex discrimination against a male student nurse (funded by the EOC).

Network Rail Infrastructure Ltd v Griffiths-Henry [2006] IRLR 865, EAT

The burden of proof in discrimination cases.

Comfort v Department for Constitutional Affairs (2006) (ET); (2005) (EAT); [2004] EWCA Civ 349 (CA)

Constructive dismissal case remitted by the CA for re-hearing after the original ET failed to deal with allegation of perjury by a senior civil servant giving evidence for the Respondent. The second appeal to the EAT concerned disclosure of the Respondent’s notes of evidence from the previous hearing.

Gdynia America Shipping Lines (London) Ltd v Chelminski [2004] ICR 1523, CA

Time for appealing an employment tribunal decision.

Kwamin v Abbey National plc [2004] ICR 841, EAT

Delay in promulgation of ET decisions, Article 6.

Addison & Addison v Ashby [2003] ICR 667

Whether child workers entitled under the Working Time Regulations to paid annual leave.

Related updates

Naomi Cunningham is regulated by the Bar Standards Board (BSB) and holds a current practising certificate. If you are not satisfied with the service provided, please click here.

"Naomi brings real value to a case - clear, considered and persuasive."

Group Litigation, Chambers & Partners 2024

"Naomi is very persuasive, calm and a pleasure to work with."; "Naomi is technically brilliant and has a wealth of expertise in handling complex discrimination and equal pay claims."

Employment, Chambers & Partners 2024

'Naomi is technically very strong and an absolute expert on discrimination and equal pay cases.'

Employment, Legal 500, 2024

“Naomi is a superb advocate and her attention to detail is extremely impressive. Her advice is both forensic and tactically strong.”

Employment, Chambers and Partners 2023

“She is very diligent and extremely reliable on large cases.”

Employment, Chambers and Partners 2023

“Naomi is an exceptional barrister, strong on her feet and intellectually fierce when it comes to shaping the legal arguments.”

Group Litigation, Chambers and Partners 2023

"She is flawless when turning out skeleton arguments, papers and comments when required; she always has a good awareness of the bigger picture and she does not get caught up in yesterday's arguments."

Employment, Chambers & Partners 2022

"She is an extremely bright and clever advocate; she has really strong attention to detail, she cuts to the heart of the issue and she forms an excellent team with instructing solicitors."

Employment, Chambers & Partners 2022

"She is a gutsy advocate who is committed and super smart."

Group Litigation, Chambers & Partners 2022

"She is bright and bursting with fresh ideas and is willing to grasp anything by the tail."

Group Litigation, Chambers & Partners 2022

"Naomi is seriously intelligent and imaginatively so; she will often come up with angles and creative arguments that no-one else has thought of. She presents compelling arguments with clarity and calmness - you would want her on your side."

Employment, Legal 500 2022

"She displays an impressive ability to get to grips with the detail and is an impressive advocate."

Employment, Chambers & Partners 2021

"She is extremely knowledgeable and experienced, and compelling in her legal arguments and she delivers results. She goes above and beyond to support her clients."

Employment, Chambers & Partners 2021

"A very intelligent barrister who always thinks outside of the box."

Employment, Legal 500 2021

"A superb employment lawyer and a great advocate."

Employment, Chambers & Partners 2020

"She's very calm and is great on the detail."

Employment, Chambers & Partners 2020

"A passionate and intellectually engaged lawyer who has an unusually creative approach to using the law in innovative ways."

Employment, Legal 500 2020

"She is thorough and has a very good manner with clients."

Employment, Chambers & Partners 2019

"She gets back to you quickly and she knows her stuff."

Employment, Chambers & Partners 2019

"She has rare expertise in discrimination cases."

Employment, Legal 500 2019

"Very good. Steady and persistent."

Employment, Chambers & Partners 2018

"She will always go the extra mile."

Employment, Chambers & Partners 2018

"She has assiduous attention to detail and flawless knowledge."

Employment, Legal 500 2017

"She always makes clients feel at ease and explains things in a very clear way – she is very practical and pragmatic in her advice."

Employment, Chambers & Partners 2017

"She has rare expertise in interim relief applications in union detriment cases."

Employment, Chambers & Partners 2017

"Extremely thorough and professional, as well as personable and approachable with clients."

Employment, Legal 500 2016

"Very responsive and always willing to go the extra mile."

Employment, Legal 500 2015

"She has a very good bedside manner and is able to explain things to clients in a manner that allays their fears."

Employment, Chambers & Partners 2014

"A very effective practitioner."

Employment, Legal 500 2014

"Great depth of intellect and refuses to just accept the obvious interpretation of a piece of legislation. "

Employment, Chambers & Partners 2010

To find out more, contact Nick Levett +44 (0)20 7427 4908 or Mark Gardner +44 (0)20 7427 4909 for a confidential discussion.

Our dedicated practice management team can help you identify the right barrister for your case.

  • Naomi writes a popular and practical guide to employment tribunal proceedings, Employment Tribunal Claims: tactics and precedents, now in its 4th edition.
  • Several reviewers describe the book as essential, and a review in the ELA Briefing adds “Every employment lawyer (including the tribunal judiciary) will learn something of value from reading this book.”
  • Naomi also blogs at www.legalfeminist.org.uk

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