Want to talk to an expert employment law solicitor?

You'll receive a callback from a specialist within an hour

The Employment Appeal Tribunal case that we’re going to examine this week is Heafield v Times Newspaper Ltd UKEATPA/1305/12/BA. This case concerns harassment in the workplace on the grounds of religious belief – specifically when unwanted conduct has the purpose or effect of offending a person and when such offence is reasonable.

  1. What were the facts in Heafield v Times Newspaper Ltd UKEATPA/1305/12/BA?
  2. What is the law relating to harassment on the grounds of religious belief?
  3. What was the Employment Appeal Tribunal’s decision?
  4. Our specialist employment lawyers’ thoughts on Heafield v Times Newspaper Ltd UKEATPA/1305/12/BA

What were the facts in Heafield v Times Newspaper Ltd UKEATPA/1305/12/BA?

Mr Heafield (“the Claimant”) is a Roman Catholic. He was working at the Times Newspaper as a sub-editor when the Pope was visiting London in 2010. An editor chasing a story on the Pope shouted across the news floor “can anyone tell what’s happening to the fucking Pope?”. There was no answer. The editor repeated the question. The Claimant complained to the Respondent of the editor’s conduct and subsequently made claims of harassment and victimisation in the Employment Tribunal. The Employment Tribunal rejected both of the Claimant’s claims, stating that the Respondent had engaged in “unwanted conduct” but that this conduct did not have the purpose or effect of violating his dignity or of creating an adverse environment for him. The Tribunal also found that the conduct was not on the grounds of the Claimant’s religion as the editor did not have the intention of offending the Claimant, nor did he know that the Claimant was a Roman Catholic. The Claimant appealed to the Employment Appeal Tribunal on the harassment point.

What is the law relating to harassment on the grounds of religious belief?

Harassment in the workplace related to a protected characteristic (age, race, sex, disability etc.) is unlawful under s.26 of the Equality Act 2010. Under s.26 workplace harassment occurs if:

  1. One person is subjected to unwanted conduct by another; and
  2. That conduct has the purpose or effect of violating that person’s dignity or creating an adverse environment for them; and
  3. That conduct is on the grounds of the person’s protected characteristic

What was the Employment Appeal Tribunal’s decision?

The Employment Appeal Tribunal upheld the Employment Tribunal’s decision and rejected the Claimant’s appeal. The Employment Appeal Tribunal found that the editor did not have the intention of offending the Claimant and nor was it reasonable for the Claimant to be offended by the conduct in question (and thus for the conduct to have the effect of offending him). Further (although less convincingly), the Employment Appeal Tribunal found that the conduct complained of was not related to the Claimant’s religion. The Employment Judge declined to elaborate further on this point as the Claimant had failed on their first ground of appeal.

Our specialist employment lawyers’ thoughts on Heafield v Times Newspaper Ltd UKEATPA/1305/12/BA

Chris Hadrill, employment law solicitor at Redmans, stated that “although an unquestionably sound judgment, the Employment Judge appears to have dodged the bullet of whether the conduct in question was on the grounds of the Claimant’s religion. The main thing to take from this case is the fact that it must be reasonable for a potential Claimant for harassment in the Employment Tribunal to have been offended by the other party’s conduct (unless, of course, it had the purpose of offending the Claimant). If the conduct complained of was utterly unintentional and quite trivial in nature then the Employment Tribunal is likely to take the view that the harassment claim should fail”.

Redmans Solicitors are employment law solicitors (including unfair dismissal solicitors) based in London

logo_website

About

Redmans Employment Team deal with employment matters for both employers and employees, including drafting employment contracts and policies, advising employers and employees on compromise agreements, handling day-to-day HR issues, advising on restructures, and handling Employment Tribunal cases for both employers and employees

Call 020 3397 3603 to speak to one of the members of our employment team or email us on enquiries@redmans.co.uk.

Share →

Our awards

Request a callback

Your name

Your email

Your telephone number

Contact us

Please feel free to discuss your own position and concerns. Contact your nearest office on:

T: 020 3397 3603
E: enquiries@redmans.co.uk
W: www.redmans.co.uk

Testimonials

4.52 Average

21 Reviews

Redman's provided excellent legal employment advice for me during a difficult time in my employment. Chris was my lawyer, super efficient, quick, reliable and clearly very experienced in the matter. Could not ask for a better law firm to deal with your query if you are in need of some help. Would definitely use them again in the future. Highly recommending Chris.

Posted 1 month ago

Steven

Chris Hadrill was very professional and responsive. I would highly recommend him

Posted 1 month ago

Dinah

Very Efficient, with very quick email reply’s. I had a matter that needed resolving within a very short space of time and Redmans Solicitors were great with dealing with my matter quickly.

Posted 1 month ago

Ankar

At Redmans the solicitor that was dealing with me was Chris. He dealt with my situation smoothly with clear guidance and explanation

Posted 1 month ago

Anonymous

Clear, concise advice and guidance delivered by an experienced and very capable solicitor, within the timelines required

Posted 2 months ago

Anonymous

Very efficient service. I never had to wIt for more than a day for a reply to any of my queries and the matter was dealt with swiftly.

Posted 2 months ago

Anonymous

Very timely, thorough and helpful advice. Friendly and considerate of the needs of the client

Posted 2 months ago

Anonymous

Very prompt and attention to detail. Thank you for the service

Posted 2 months ago

Chris

Couldn’t be happier with how Redmans successfully handled our seemingly tricky case. By being clear and detailed every step of the way, with the utmost professionalism and courtesy, they made it an informative and eye-opening process, taking the stress out of the situation and ultimately delivered what you would want from such a service. I fully appreciate everything they have done, and if I am ever in need of such services in the future, they will be the first number I contact. Excellent.

Posted 2 months ago

Anonymous

Excellent work delivered with great quality

Posted 2 months ago

Dominic

Chris Hadrill was a great help both in terms of his advice and his expertise. He explained my options to me clearly and concisely enabling me to quickly make the right decision for me in the circumstance. I would not hesitate to recommend Chris or Redmans to friends or colleagues, and would certainly make Redmans my first port of call should I require a similar service in the future.

Posted 2 months ago

Kurt

Redmans gave excellent advice and helped me understand everything in clear concepts. Thank you!

Posted 2 months ago

Anonymous

Resolved my issues

Posted 2 months ago

Keith

Quick fast professional service.

Posted 2 months ago

Michael

"Prompt, efficient and practical advice that resulted in me getting some additional money tax free."

Posted 2 months ago

Anonymous

Patient and thorough advice given to me around my Settlement Agreement

Posted 2 months ago

Anonymous

"Excellent service, getting back to you promptly giving you very good advice."

Posted 2 months ago

Anonymous

I found Chris Hadrill to be an excellent help, he is very knowledgeable and gives good ,concise ,strategic advice .He makes himself readily accessible when you need him.I would personally highly recommend him.

Posted 2 months ago

Christine

Professional, efficient and reliable service provided. I strongly recommend them and I would use this service again.

Posted 2 months ago