In Grant v HM Land Registry, the Court of Appeal has held that in order for something to amount to harassment under the discrimination legislation, it must be something which is more than trivial. Harassment occurs where a person engages in unwanted conduct related to a relevant protected characteristic (in this case sexual orientation) which has the purpose or effect of violating someone’s dignity or of creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for them.
In Grant v HM Land Registry, Mr Grant was gay. He had worked at the Lytham Land Registry office where he had been open about his sexuality. He then moved to the Coventry office and did not disclose his sexuality to his new colleagues. His new manager mentioned his sexuality to a colleague at the Coventry office. The Court found that there was no malice or ill will in making this revelation. Mr Grant claimed that disclosing his sexuality amounted to harassment on the grounds of his sexual orientation. The Court of Appeal said no – even if Mr Grant had been upset by the revelation, the effect did not amount to harassment and Tribunals should be wary of trivial acts being caught by the concept of harassment. The Court went on to suggest that deliberately “outing” someone could amount to harassment in different circumstances, but that each case would have to be assessed on its own facts.
If you would like to talk through a situation you are dealing with, or if you need advice on any aspect of employment law, please contact any member of the Pure Employment Law team (01243 836840 or [email protected])