20 April 2022

Cases - Harassment – the Claimant’s perception was not enough to turn conduct into harassment

The case of Ali v Heathrow Express and Redline Assured Security Ltd serves as a good reminder that just because someone says they feel harassed, doesn’t mean they have been! 

Mr Ali, the Claimant, is Muslim and worked as a security guard at Heathrow Airport. Sometimes suspicious objects were planted to test how security officers responded to them, and the incident the Claimant complained about involved a test where the Respondent used a box, some electrical cabling and a visible note with the wording “Allahu Akbar” written in Arabic.

When the Claimant later learned of the incident, he complained that this conduct amounted to harassment by reference to his religion. The tribunal judged that the conduct did not amount to harassment because it was not in all the circumstances reasonable for the Claimant to perceive the conduct as having such an effect, and he should have understood that the phrase “Allahu Akbar” was used in the context of recent incidents where the phrase had been used rather than seeking to associate Islam with terror.

The EAT dismissed the Claimant’s appeal, finding that the Claimant’s perception is just one of the matters for the tribunal to take into account when considering if conduct amounted to harassment as defined by s26 Equality Act 2010.

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