Court of appeal set to rule whether employers can be held liable for employee spats

This week the Court of Appeal will hear the case of Warby v Wunda Group, in a case UK law firm Eversheds has said could prove significant for employers and mean that they could soon be held responsible for insulting remarks that occur between colleagues.

The case in point relates to a female employee, who in the context of a heated argument with her employer over pay was accused of lying. There was also an allegation relating to the employee’s claimed miscarriage earlier in the year, which the employer called into doubt.

The employee found the remarks distressing but the question then arose whether the employers reference in such a way to a uniquely female matter constituted sex discrimination and harassment.

Naeema Choudry, partner at global law firm Eversheds said: “Discrimination law in the UK is well-understood by now as protecting employees from disadvantageous treatment relating to protected characteristics such as their sex, race and disability.

“Unwanted conduct related to such protected characteristics will also constitute harassment if it creates an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for the individual (whether or not intended). The important question in every case is the individual’s perception and where to draw the line between unreasonable or unpleasant conduct at work and conduct which is harassing or discriminatory in nature,” Choudry said….

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