(c) Flickr user bazzat2003

Think you have been harassed? Think whether you have yourself been a part of the ‘harassment culture’ at your workplace because the pot can’t really call the kettle black.

In English vs Thomas Sanderson Ltd (2008), the Employment Appeal Tribunal ruled that the employee had not been harassed or discriminated against since he had himself been a part of the harassment culture at his workplace.

Mr English had made a complaint of discrimination and harassment on the grounds of sexual orientation. Mr English is in fact straight and is married with three children, all of which was known to his colleagues. He was ridiculed as being gay based on the facts that he lived in Brighton and went to a boarding school but his heterosexuality was no secret to anyone. Therefore, this case cannot be taken to be a case of discrimination by perception (which is an offence under the Equality Act 2010) since Mr English wasn’t perceived to be gay.

Secondly, Mr English had been known to have engaged in ageist and sexist banter. On a previous occasion, a complaint had been made against him for commenting on a woman’s breasts. Mr English also remained friends with his alleged tormentors indicating that the environment did not become intimidating or hostile for him and therefore, he was not ‘harassed’ as defined by the law.

Mr English filed a complaint only after he was called into a meeting by his manager and asked to resign from his post for poor performance. Mr English promised improvement and was placed on a 3 months probation. Following the meeting, he made a written complaint alleging homophobic banter against him, his manager responded to the complaint effectively by invoking formal procedures. However, Mr English said he was disappointed that others had been involved in this and subsequently, resigned from his post.

On the basis of Mr English’s offensive behaviour and evasive responses, the Tribunal ruled against him.

For more information on the Equality Act 2010, please see our guide. You may also want to read LSE’s Harassment Policy.