Blog article by Jacqui McKee, Director of Advice and Compliance at the Equality Commission
Christmas is rolling round again, and with it the round of work ‘do’s’ and Christmas parties. Did you know that work-related outings and parties that are sponsored by the employer are likely to be deemed to be an extension of the workplace for the purposes of equality and employment law, and that employers can be held liable for the actions of staff on a work night out?
This year we supported a case in w
hich a woman, Shirley Lyons, who worked for Starplan, alleged sexual harassment by male members of staff on their Christmas night out. Starplan ended up paying out almost £19,000 when an Industrial Tribunal found in Ms Lyons’ favour.
Employers need to remember that a work party is still work and employers are liable for what happens there. In this case, the employer did not set down any guidelines or instruction for standards of behaviour and a senior person at the party was not formally delegated with responsibility for supervising it.