08 January 2016 #Employment
In Kelly v Covance Laboratories Ltd the Employment Appeals Tribunal held that an employer’s instruction to an employee not to speak Russian (her native language) at work was not direct race discrimination or race harassment.
Employers do need to be cautious about giving any such instruction as other cases have shown that this could amount to discrimination. However, in this case an important factor for the Tribunal was that the instruction was not given because the employee was Russian but because the employer had a suspicion that the employee may be an animal rights activist (her job involved animal testing) and thus it was important that its managers could understand her conversations. Further, whilst the instruction was ‘unwanted conduct’ for the purposes of the harassment claim it did not have the purpose or effect of violating the employee’s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading or offensive environment for her at work and thus the harassment claim failed.