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Employers beware – careless talk can cost

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Employers beware – careless talk can cost

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A recent Employment Appeal Tribunal case highlights the issues with staff socialising and the careless talk and gossip that arises from the event. The case in question examined the events of a firm of solicitors Christmas Party.

At this event, a female employee who was already in a personal relationship with another employee of the firm caused a stir. She was seen kissing the IT Manager, and at the end of the evening they were seen leaving together and alledgedly shared a hotel room.

Shortly after the new year, the female employee informed her employers of her pregnancy. On finding this out, a suggestion was made by the HR Manager about the paternity of the baby. According to the female employee, the HR Manager had also been gossiping and spreading rumours about her pregnancy, which resulted in the IT Manager asking for clarification as to the paternity of the baby.

The female employee issued employment tribunal proceedings claiming sex and pregnancy discrimination, harassment and constructive dismissal. The EAT found that this did constitute sexual and pregnancy related discrimination and the behaviour from the HR Manager was unacceptable.

This case reminds employers about their legal responsibility for the behaviour of their employees, especially during and after any social events. It also highlights the importance of ensuring grievances are dealt with promptly and swiftly.

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