Want to talk to an expert employment law solicitor?

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

In the case of Bessong v Pennine Care NHS Trust UKEAT/0247/18/JOJ the Employment Appeal Tribunal (“EAT”) considered whether the Employment Tribunal had been correct to dismiss an employee’s direct discrimination and harassment claims.

The facts in Bessong v Pennine Care NHS Trust

Mr Colleridge Bessong (the ‘Claimant’) was a mental health nurse working for Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust (the ‘Respondent’) in a secure residential unit for men sectioned under the Mental Health Act. The Claimant was a black African.  He was subjected to a serious assault by a patient accompanied by racist abuse which included the patient calling him a “f***ing black” and stating, ‘I’m going to stab you now’. The patient had a history of racist behaviour towards black members of staff. The Respondent made a record of the assault, but an incident report form made no mention of the racist abuse.

The Claimant then raised a grievance about the incident the following month, stating that hate crimes were being committed against staff on a daily basis and were going unpunished by the Respondent. He also alleged that the Respondent had failed to safeguard black staff members as a result of its inadequate incident reporting systems.

The Claimant’s grievance was not upheld, and he went on to make claims in the Employment Tribunal (‘ET’) of direct and indirect race discrimination and racial harassment.

Employment Tribunal

The ET did not uphold the Claimant’s claims of harassment and direct discrimination because the Respondent’s failings (not ensuring that all incidents of racial abuse were reported by employees) were not themselves related to race.  However, it did hold the Respondent liable for indirect discrimination. 

It found that the failure to create a culture in which all racist incidents were formally reported contributed to an environment in which racial abuse from patients was more likely to occur. A perception had formed amongst many black staff that reporting every single racist incident was pointless.  The ET held that the failure to create a culture in which all such incidents were formally reported contributed to an environment in which racial abuse from patients was more likely to occur.

The Claimant appealed the ET’s decision to not uphold his direct discrimination and harassment claims to the Employment Appeal Tribunal (the ‘EAT’).

Employment Appeal Tribunal

The Claimant’s appeal to the EAT focussed on the following points:

  • In interpreting section 26(1) of the EqA 2010 to require that an employer’s action or inaction must itself be related to race in a complaint of third-party harassment.
  • In holding that he was not entitled to rely directly on the EU Race Directive.

The EAT upheld the ET decision that the Respondent was not liable for harassment under s.26 EqA. It was not enough that the harassment related to race. The Respondent’s action or inaction had to be related to race and on the facts of this case it was not.

The EAT also considered whether the EU Race Directive requires Member States to outlaw third-party harassment where the harassment was foreseeable and preventable, without a requirement that the employer’s failures were themselves “related to” race.  It held that this could not be the case as, if it were, the impact would be to create a situation of strict liability for employers whereby they would be liable for acts of third-party harassment, irrespective of any motivational element relating to race on its part. 

Our solicitors’ views on the case of Bessong v Pennine Care NHS Trust UKEAT/0247/18/JOJ

Sacha Barrett, a Senior Associate in the employment department at Redmans, made the following comments on the case: “Previously under section 40 of the EqA 2010 there were provisions in place to make employers liable for third party harassment.  Their removal in 2013 was controversial at the time and the need for protection for employees has been highlighted by the MeToo movement which has uncovered the extent of harassment in the workplace.  The Equality and Human Rights Commission and the Women and Equalities Select Committee have both called repeatedly for third-party harassment provisions to be reinstated in the EqA 2010 and a government consultation on whether new third-party harassment provisions should be introduced has just been completed so watch this space.’

The decision of the Employment Appeal Tribunal in Bessong v Pennine Care NHS Trust UKEAT/0247/18/JOJ can be found here.


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


    4.81 Average

    313 Reviews


    Sacha was very thorough and very helpful, with great advice on when to act and when to wait on my case.

    Posted 1 day ago


    I have been very pleased with the support I got from Redmans Solicitors on my case with my employer. Caroline has always helped me to put things in perspective and showed me different scenarios ultimately to help me taking the right decision. She was very professional and always available when I needed, and at the same time also emphatic which I found also really important to establish a strong relationship. Will definitely recommend!

    Posted 3 days ago


    Prompt and efficient response to my enquiries. Excellent negotiating skills with my employer which considerably improved the terms of my settlement agreement.

    Posted 4 days ago


    Very quick and professional service , Rana was very helpful

    Posted 4 days ago

    James G

    Very professional, knowledgeable and kept me informed at every stage of my case. I would highly recommend Redmans.

    Posted 6 days ago

    Pravina P

    Chris was really good and help solve my issues with current company. I would recommend him to anyone.

    Posted 1 week ago

    Paul L

    Sacha was extremely helpful in my matter. I would not hesitate you use Sacha or Redmonds again. Everyone was very helpful.

    Posted 2 weeks ago

    Monique N

    I had Mel Chin helping me with a settlement and she was very professional and reliable throughout my case. Mel provided me with a good understanding of what was happening and gave suggestions on routes I could take. My case was resolved and closed promptly although the opposing side were very difficult to deal with. A very big thank you to Mel and Chris.

    Posted 2 weeks ago

    Jackie C

    My first ever experience needing the services of a solicitor; cannot speak highly enough of Mel and Chris’s personable, reassuring and straight to the point advice in dealing with my settlement agreement. They put me at ease during an extremely stressful time. I am equally as happy with the outcome, as l am their professional services.

    Posted 3 weeks ago


    Really happy with the service. All very efficient. Mel rattled through things very fast, however was great whenever I needed to stop and ask a question! Would definitely return to Redmans if I ever needed Legal advice.

    Posted 3 weeks ago

    Peter F

    Very helpful and clear advice, would highly recommend.

    Posted 3 weeks ago

    William A

    Second time I have had to use Redmans. They did not disappoint. They are fast , efficient and friendly. I have already recommended them to friends and colleagues. I hope I dont have to use them again but if I have to , they are the solicitors for me.

    Posted 3 weeks ago

    Fleeta C

    Great service with tantastic communications. The solicitor responsible is extremely knowledgeable and was responsible for bringing a timely and desired solution.

    Posted 3 weeks ago

    Veronica M

    Extremely helpful, starting from a request for advice at very short notice, to dedicating time for me to understand and review all documents thoroughly.

    Posted 3 weeks ago

    Sophie R

    Very efficient and professional service. Chris was very empathetic, knowledgeable and personable. Highly recommended.

    Posted 1 month ago

    Melanie M

    Very happy with the detailed advice provided from Redmans. They also helped me to secure a higher settlement than originally offered by my employer and were extremely diligent. I first spoke with Chris at relatively short notice and then Sacha dealt with my case. Would definitely recommend and use again in the future if needed.

    Posted 1 month ago


    Redmans helped me with a work related issue, which was resolved quickly and professionally. I would definitely recommend this company.

    Posted 1 month ago

    James F

    Great people, really friendly and professional helped with everything that I needed.

    Posted 1 month ago

    Anusha S

    My case was handled by Sacha who was very thorough and helped me to achieve a good outcome with my employer. Sacha was very personal, professional and helped me during quite a stressful time, so I am hugely grateful to her and to Redmans. This was my first time engaging with a law firm so I wasn't sure what to expect but I can definitely say that it was a good experience overall and I ended up better off due to having the help of an experienced and proactive solicitor on my side.

    Posted 1 month ago

    Diane P

    So grateful that I contacted Redmans to deal with my Redundancy Agreement. Everything from the initial call to the completion of the matter was professional, efficient and effective. I was listened to, had everything explained simply and kept informed of every step. I received super advice and the costs were very competitive. I would highly recommend them to anyone seeking similar help. First class service - thank you

    Posted 1 month ago

    Chris L

    It was a very efficient and effective service - Would recommend.

    Posted 1 month ago