Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Watch your mouth!

The Employment Appeals Tribunal has recently had to rule on a case where an employee alleged that he had been promised a substantial pay increase by his boss over drinks at the firm's Christmas Party in Blackpool.

In the case of Judge v Crown Leisure Ltd it was held that the words used were "words of comfort" and not, as Mr Judge alleged, a contractually binding promise.

Nevertheless, every case will turn on its individual facts and employers should beware of comments made in a social context (especially after the lips have been loosened by a few drinks) having far-reaching consequences.

Former TV pundit Ron Atkinson has also been in trouble recently over alleged comments made about Chinese women during an after dinner speech. In the past an employer has been held liable to two waitresses who were exposed to racist jokes during an after dinner speech by comedian Bernard Manning. Although the Courts have now held that employers are not liable for the actions of third parties like said Mr Manning, they can still be liable if it can be shown that the employer's actions in exposing the employee to such treatment were themselves discriminatory.

The best advice – don't let the situation arise in the first place!

Case link:

www.employmentappeals.gov.uk/uploads/UKEAT0443042892004/index.htm)