Liability for third party sexual harassment of employees

Posted in : Seamus Says - Employment Law Discussion on 6 April 2018
Seamus McGranaghan
O'Reilly Stewart Solicitors
Issues covered:

Q. Can employers in Northern Ireland be held liable for third-party [non-employee] sexual harassment of employees? I believe they can, but not for other grounds of harassment. Is that really the case?

Seamus: That's it in a nutshell, yes. Those are the circumstances. The sex discrimination regulations were amended in 2008 at the time to bring that in. There's been a couple of interesting cases since then. We've previously talked about the Bernard Manning case. That was slightly different in terms of there was race involved in it. I think it was race and sex involved. Then more recently, this aspect of . . .

Scott: President's Club?

Seamus: Yes.

Scott: The laws changed in GB.

Seamus: It has.

Scott: The employer in the hotel would not be held liable for the actions of the people who attended the President's Club, for instance. But in Northern Ireland, an employer can be held liable if members of staff are sexually harassed by members of the public.

Seamus: Yes, that's it.

Scott: So, if it's on other [discrimination] grounds, they're not covered, or at least the employer would not be held liable under any legislation, as such.

Seamus: Yes, as the employer. We do have the Protection from Harassment Order, the 1997 order. There may be another avenue that the employee can go down, not necessarily be successful against its employer, but there is another avenue there, but essentially in Northern Ireland, be aware that we do have that distinction here.


This article is correct at 06/04/2018

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Seamus McGranaghan
O'Reilly Stewart Solicitors

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