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Harassment under the Equality Act 2010


News

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has published new technical Guidance on Sexual Harassment and Harassment at Work.

The EHRC is clear that all employers have a duty of care to protect their workers and will be legally liable for harassment in the workplace if they have not taken reasonable steps to prevent it. The guidance offers a legal explanation and practical examples of how to tackle and respond effectively to harassment….Read more

If you are preparing a harassment claim, see How to prepare a Scott Schedule for a harassment claim

What is harassment?

Harassment is defined in S26 of the Equalities Act 2010 . There are three types of harassment;

  • Unwanted conduct that has the purpose or effect of creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for the complainant, or violating the complainant’s dignity
  • Unwanted conduct of a sexual nature (sexual harassment)
  • Treating a person less favourably than another person because they have either submitted to, or did not submit to, sexual harassment or harassment related to sex or gender reassignment

The employment tribunal considers your perception of the harassment. Harassment can happen even if the person did not intend to harass you, but you felt that you were being harassed.

Under the Equalities Act 2010, it is unlawful to harass an employee or worker for a reason to their protected characteristic. Harassment applies to all the protected characteristics except pregnancy, maternity, marriage and civil partnership.

You can complain about harassment which;

  • is directed at you.
  • creates an offensive environment for you, even if it is not directed at you at all.
  • as a result of perception and association (see direct discrimination).

[see How to prepare a Scott Schedule for a direct discrimination claim, How to prepare a Scott Schedule for a victimisation claim, How to prepare a Scott Schedule for a harassment claim, How to prepare a Scott Schedule for a sexual harassment claim, How to ask questions about discrimination at work, How to write a grievance about discrimination]


Cases

The employers in these cases were guilty of harassment and had to pay compensation.

In Michela Curto v The European Parliament, a member of the European Parliament hired a parliamentary assistant. She subjected her to psychological harassment consisting of humiliating and scornful language, threats, insults and swearing. The Court said that the degree of repetitive and systematic intentional behaviour could not be excused. It was also an inherently stressful atmosphere, and awarded €10,000.

In SQ v European Investment Bank, an administrator claimed that her career at the European Investment Bank had been damaged by bullying. The Bank awarded her compensation but imposed a confidentiality requirement. The Court said that it was wrong to impose a confidentiality requirement, because the public interest required such findings of harassment to be open. Imposing confidentiality also went against the aim of preventing and penalising European Institutions which permitted harassment. The Court awarded €10,000 because of the confidentiality requirement.


Updated: 07/03/2020

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