Discriminatory comment was not harassment under the circumstances


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The Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) has held that calling a colleague a "fat ginger pikey" did not amount to harassment under section 26 of the Equality Act 2010 in Evans v Xactly Corporation.

Mr Evans was a sales representative for just under a year, when he was dismissed for poor performance. He then brought a number of claims, including a harassment claim on the ground that he had been called a "fat ginger pikey" on at least one occasion. Mr Evans was sensitive about his weight, and had strong links with the traveller community. At first instance the tribunal found that although the comment was potentially discriminatory it was made in the context of an office culture of good natured jibing and teasing among competitive sales people. Mr Evans was an active participant in this culture of inappropriate comments and behaviour and seemed happy with the environment in which he found himself. Further there was evidence that at the time the remark was made Mr Evans did not take exception to it. The tribunal found, and the EAT agreed, that the treatment did not satisfy the definition of harassment in the Equality Act 2010 and therefore Mr Evans's claim failed.


Take note: Although on the face of it calling someone a "fat ginger pikey" may seem to amount to harassment, it will depend on the context in which such a comment is made. here the office culture was such that a comment like this constituted good humoured banter.

This article is taken from HR Law - November 2018.

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