Employers can be liable for the harassment caused by one employee to another but this case shows when they will not.
The employee in question had posted a racially offensive image of a golliwog on his Facebook page, with the message “Let’s see how far he can travel before Facebook takes him off”.
The image was shared for friends, including a colleague who took offense to it and complained to his line manager. The matter escalated into a formal grievance and formal disciplinary action, resulting in a final written warning. The colleague was later moved to work in the same department as the poster, went off sick and brought a claim for harassment.
It was accepted that the imagine was offensive and caused offence but the employer was not held liable because the act of posting was not done “in the course of employment” but outside of it.
The case highlights the importance of having a well drafted social media policy in place.
Forbes v LHR Airport Ltd