Harassment

2014-06-02 Jennifer Renney posted:

You may think that harassment is an unwanted action or offensive comment made towards another. However the Employment Tribunal considers a wide variety of actions to be harassment. Here are some examples.

Hat-based and racial harassment

A Tribunal was asked to consider whether or not a line manager of a pub harassed a black pub worker when he told him that he looked like a pimp when he was wearing a promotional/comedy St Patrick’s Day hat. Even though the line manager’s racial stereotyping was done in general banter, the Tribunal held that a single remark can constitute harassment. The employee was awarded £1,200 compensation.

Star Wars and age related harassment

As part of their banter with an older worker, colleagues nicknamed him Yoda, a small wizened character in Star Wars who is several hundred years old. They also changed his number plate from OAB to OAP. The Tribunal held that this amounted to harassment, despite the colleagues saying that they were only joking.

Toy helicopter and turban harassment

A colleague made a joke in an office that he could fly a radio-controlled toy helicopter and land it on the flat surface of a fellow employee’s turban. The Tribunal held that this amounted to religious harassment. This just shows how a one-off joke in the office could be deemed as harassment.

Facebook sabotage harassment

Two members of staff took their heterosexual manager’s mobile phone without his permission and posted a status update on his Facebook page saying I am gay and proud. Employers should take note, as an individual can be subjected to sexual orientation harassment even if the harasser knows that the individual is not gay. The Tribunal finds this has occurred; the employer could be made liable, as they are responsible for their employee’s actions.

The Equality Act 2010 defines “harassment” as unwanted conduct related to a relevant protected characteristic that has the purpose or effect of violating an individual’s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for that individual.

Harassment will amount to discrimination if it relates to the following one of the following protected characteristics: sex, gender reassignment, race, religion or belief, sexual orientation, disability or age.

If you would like know about your rights as an employer or employee concerning harassment in the workplace, contact Jennifer Renney today on 01225 632240 or at info@renneyandco.com

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