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Employer liable for the harassment of care staff by children

28 June 2011

Last week saw a particularly challenging employment appeal tribunal decision for local authorities and managers in the care sector. An Iranian residential social worker successfully held his employer liable for acts of racial harassment carried out by an extremely challenging child. It was found that the employer was liable under the Race Relations Act 1976.

The tribunal concluded that the employer had known the employee had his accent mocked and that the child said he should go “back home”. The tribunal also decided that the local authority had not acted to put in effective measures to prevent the behaviour. The behaviour was harassment for which the employer was liable given its inaction.

The tribunal dismissed the argument that the child’s underlying intention was to challenge authority and was thus not racially motivated. This decision has important consequences for managers in the health and care sector, whether working with challenging children or the elderly.

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