30 January 2012 #Employment
Clarkslegal LLP was instructed to act on one of the first employment tribunal cases concerning third party harassment. In this case, Clarkslegal represented the employer in a case where the employer’s ex-employee made a claim for third party harassment.
The controversial third party harassment laws can see employers liable for acts of harassment committed by third parties where:
The employee in this case alleged that third parties, including homeless people and youths loitering outside her workplace, had repeatedly sworn at her calling her b*tch, c**t and b*st*rd and this was third party harassment.
The tribunal judge confirmed in his judgment that acts of third party harassment must relate to a protected characteristic i.e. age, disability, race, religion or belief and sex. Although the judge decided that the Claimant’s allegations of harassment were not proven, he held that even if the alleged acts of harassment were true, they did not relate to her sex because although some of the swear words were directed at the employee as a female, other swear words allegedly shouted at her could have offended and been aimed at both men and women. The judge dismissed the employee’s claims accordingly.
This is one of the first cases on third party harassment and provides useful guidance for employers who will not be liable for acts of third party harassment unless it specifically relates to a protected characteristic. The government is still consulting on whether to remove third party harassment laws after describing them as unworkable.