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. Redmans have offices in Richmond, Chiswick, Hammersmith, Fulham, Kingston, Wimbledon, Ealing, Kings Cross and Marylebone (meetings strictly by appointment only).

Want to talk to an expert employment law solicitor?

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

Share →

Our awards

Request a callback

Your first name (required)

Your last name (required)

Your email (required)

Your telephone number (required)

Brief details of your enquiry

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

4.75 Average

193 Reviews

Mark W

Most professional from start to finish offering very a personal service. Most impressive and quick when dealing with the matters in hand.

Posted 3 weeks ago

Anonymous

Posted 3 weeks ago

submit

I am very glad I came across Redmans Solicitors. Fantastic service!

Posted 3 weeks ago

Anonymous

Fantastic communication, always happy to answer queries, highly recommended.

Posted 3 weeks ago

Wavenie B

They were very straight to the point, friendly and understanding people. I felt they had my best interest. They were easy to get hold of, replies were almost instant. 5/5 for customer service

Posted 3 weeks ago

Christina P

Caroline was fantastic to work with - extremely knowledgeable, supportive, thorough and honest. I definitely recommend Redmans!

Posted 3 weeks ago

Anonymous

Very well done and fast support. Professional and reliable. Highly recommended!

Posted 3 weeks ago

Helene L

They were very knowledgable in the respected area in terms of change in law/regulations that is crucial for the clients who are seeking for legal arvice.

Posted 3 weeks ago

Sara R

Very helpful and wonderful advice

Posted 3 weeks ago

Marie D

very good service all digitalised

Posted 3 weeks ago

Philip H

Chris Hadrill handled my case with great accuracy and efficiency. Basically made it feel like a process without hassle. Doesn't try to expand the case just for greater fees. I value his professional advice highly.

Posted 4 weeks ago

Michael W

Professional, responsive and supportive - excellent service!

Posted 4 weeks ago

Anonymous

I was really happy with the service provided. I had to chase a couple of time but despite that, my matter was dealt with in a timely manor. I would use again in the future

Posted 1 month ago

Lee M

Superb service and always available

Posted 1 month ago

Jonathan S

I was very grateful for the support I received from Redmans during a very difficult period. Rana Tandon really got under the skin of my issue and understood what was important to me, steering me carefully and sensibly to an outcome I was very happy with. I would recommend Redmans to anyone else without any reservations whatsoever.

Posted 1 month ago

Mohamed A

Super helpful and efficient, trustworthy service

Posted 1 month ago

Anonymous

efficient, responsive and effective

Posted 1 month ago

Andrew B

Very good service

Posted 1 month ago

Anonymous

Excellent service, compassionate and a good outcome

Posted 1 month ago

Anonymous

I had an employment issue which required legal advice. Chris was very supportive and knowledgeable, resulting in an optimum resolution in my favour. Would definitely recommend.

Posted 1 month ago

David M

Very professional and first-rate advice. I would use again. With thanks,

Posted 1 month ago