Employers must protect employees from harassment from the public

The High Court has ruled, in judicial review proceedings brought by the equal opportunities commission, that the Government has failed to implement the European Equal Treatment Directive properly within the Employment Equality (sex discrimination) Rregulations 2005 so as to protect the rights of women.

The High Court ruling makes it clear that UK Law must go beyond protecting women from abusive colleagues and extend this to protection from the behaviour of customers, clients and members of the public.

Women and Men should be protected from harassment in any job where they meet the public, from pubs and hotels to hospitals and airports. The decision, in a challenge brought by the Equal Opportunities Commission could eventually prompt claims involving harassment of employees unless employers act quickly.

Although employers cannot eliminate the risks of claims entirely, the must now take steps to reduce harassment of employees and ensure that workers know how to react.

A failure to do so will leave employers vulnerable to tribunal claims.