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Harassment – you cannot be harassed if you were not aware of the conduct in question

Adrian Fryer

In the recent case of Greasley-Adams v Royal Mail Group Limited the claimant attempted to argue that he had suffered harassment by reason of conduct which he was not aware of at the time it occurred. He only became aware of the conduct when it was revealed as part of a bullying & harassment investigation against him.

The EAT agreed with the employment tribunal’s original decision and held that these incidents could not have violated the claimant’s dignity before the time at which he became aware of them. It also held that when he did become aware of them as part of the investigation into his alleged bullying, it was not reasonable for them to be considered as having violated his dignity. The tribunal had noted in particular that: “It was inevitable that in the course of [the] investigation things would emerge which the claimant did not like … [In] the context of a [bullying and harassment] investigation, it was not in our view reasonable that the ‘unwanted conduct’ should have the proscribed effect …”

This case confirms that harassment under the EqA 2010 takes place when the complainant becomes aware of the unwanted conduct rather than when the conduct occurs.

Adrian Fryer, Partner & Head of Employment

t: 0151 224 0539