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Equality Act 2010 and Third Party Harassment

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Lawdit Solicitors - Expert Author

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Issued on 11th October 2010

Prior to the Equality Act 2010, protection from harassment by third parties, in the employment field, only applied to sex discrimination. This has now been extended to the other protected characteristics, except for marriage/civil partnership and pregnancy/maternity.

The Act defines harassment as "unwanted conduct related to a relevant protected characteristics, which has the purpose or effect of violating an individual's dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for that individual". The Equality and Human Rights Commission's website provides further guidance: http://www.equalityhumanrights.com/uploaded_files/sexual_orientation_and_the_workplace_acas.pdf

Third party harassment occurs where a worker experiences harassment by someone who doesn't work for the organisation. It does not have to be the same person harassing the worker on each occasion. If the employer is aware of this and fails to take reasonable steps to protect their workers and the harassment has occurred twice before, the workers will be entitled to seek damages. With no limit to damages awarded in discrimination cases, if employers are held liable they could face significant damages for injury to feelings.

To avoid liability, employers may wish to take steps now. Employers can start with updating policies relating to harassment in accordance with the Act and communicating this to employees. Other steps may include taking appropriate action where a situation occurs and dealing with it promptly to keep the employee out of danger.

Cases prompting the extension to legislation: Burton v De Vere Hotels Ltd [1997], MacDonald v Advocate General Scotland [2003].

Nesa Ahmed is an assistant to Izaz Ali (Izaz.Ali@lawdit.co.uk ). Izaz is a commercial lawyer who specialises in information technology law and intellectual property law with an emphasis on IT, escrow, online and off-line contracts, and the buying and selling of online businesses.


About the Author

Lawdit Solicitors offer services and advice for litigation, commercial contracts, Intellectual Property and IT legal agreements. We are experts in commercial law with a heavy emphasis on Intellectual Property, Internet and e-commerce law. Lawdit is a member of the International Trademark Association, the Solicitors' Association of Higher Court Advocates and we are the appointed Solicitors to the largest webdesign association in the world, the United Kingdom Website Designers Association.



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Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2010-11-01 15:23:40 in Legal Articles

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