January Update

Case law update

Bellman v Northampton Recruitment

This recent High Court case dealt with an issue most organisations dread – whether an employer is responsible for the damage caused by a drunken assault following a Christmas work party. In this case, the managing director punched an employee, leading to the victim suffering head injuries so severe that he was unlikely to be able to work again. The court decided that the company was not liable in this case, as there wasn’t a sufficient connection between the incident and the business.  However, the decision may be appealed and employers need to be aware that decisions on vicarious liability can go either way on the day.

Grange v Abellio London

In this case the EAT confirmed that workers don’t have to formally request a rest break when working for more than six hours in order for them not getting a break to be considered a ‘refusal’ by their employer to grant one. The case closes a loophole in the working time regulations. 

Pemberton v Inwood

The EAT decided it was lawful for a Church of England bishop to refuse a chaplaincy licence to a clergyman expecting to take up a new job in the NHS on the grounds that his same-sex marriage was not in line with religious doctrine. The case demonstrates how an exception in the Equality Act 2010 (section 53) allows otherwise discriminatory acts in a work context, if the employment in question is ‘for the purpose of an organised religion’. Employers should note, however, that in most cases, it will be very difficult to show that directly discriminatory behaviour falls within an exception of the Equality Act.

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