Seems that actions do speak louder than words!

The gestures included winking, limp wrist actions, making the shape of a tea pot and blowing a kiss’. This was obviously to infer that the gentleman was a homosexual. It was deemed that such actions could be considered discriminatory, as it made the individual in question feel intimidated.

Under the Equality Act 2010, It is against the law to discriminate against anyone because of:

Age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation.

The issue here for employers to consider is vicarious liability, as they are responsible for the actions of their employees whilst they are acting in the course of their employment. In this particular situation, the complaint was that a customer returned some locks to local locksmith's Taylor Edwards, the man serving him, Peter Edwards, blew him a sarcastic kiss after a minor altercation took place. For an extended period of time after, whenever the complainant walked past the shop and Peter Edwards was outside, he made gestures of the above nature, without provocation.

Peter Edwards was on a work break outside the shop at the time of the gesturing however he was still deemed to be acting in the course of his employment, and as such the company was deemed to be vicariously liable, and had to pay to the complainant £7,500 in damages.

It’s important to remember, as an employer, you are responsible for the behaviour your workforce in both words and gestures.

For clarification on this or further employment law advice, Lawgistics members can contact the legal team.


Authors: Roxanne Bradley

Published: 10 Nov 2015


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