It has been confirmed today that the provisions in the Equality Act 2010 which make employers liable for the harassment of their employees by third parties over whom they may not have direct control, such as customers and clients, will be repealed with effect from 1 October 2013.
This does not mean that employers will be entirely immune from such claims after 1 October 2013. However, to succeed in any claim, an employee would have to show that there was a failure on the part of the employer to take steps to prevent third parties committing acts of harassment against them and that the reason for that failure was due to a protected characteristic, for example their sex or race. As highlighted in our previous blog on internet trolling, employers could also still face claims under the Health and Safety Act 1974 or for constructive dismissal. Therefore, employers should continue to take reasonable steps to protect their employees from all forms of harassment.