Child A, who was at the children’s home run by Sheffield City Council where social worker Mr Norouzi worked, was regularly offensive to him on racial grounds. She had told him to go back to his own country, stated that she would like to blow up Asia and all Asians, and mocked and mimicked his accent.

The Employment Appeal Tribunal has held that Mr Norouzi, who is of Iranian origin, could succeed in his claims against Sheffield City Council for indirect race discrimination and race harassment.

As Mr Norouzi brought his claim under the old Race Relations Act 1976 (which has since been replaced by the Equality Act 2010) he had to follow a somewhat convoluted argument to succeed in this case, based on the failure of the Council to deal with the issue.

Things will be different under the Equality Act 2010, however, which contains a new harassment offence. Under the Equality Act, the employer will be liable for harassment where it knew that the employee had been harassed by that third party on at least 2 other occasions and had failed to take reasonably practicable steps to prevent this from happening again.

However, this new provision in the Equality Act may not survive much longer; the Government has recently said that they believe it is unworkable, and that they may repeal it.

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Updates: For employers: Bullying and harassment | For employees: Bullying and harassment |

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