Littler Global Guide - United Kingdom - Q4 2018

Browse through brief employment and labor law updates from around the globe. Contact a Littler attorney for more information or view our global locations.

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Supreme Court Rules that Refusal to Bake “Gay-Cake” Was Not Discriminatory

Precedential Decision by Judiciary or Regulatory Agency

Author: Lisa Rix, Associate — Littler United Kingdom

On October 10, 2018, the UK Supreme Court held a bakery and its Christian owners had not directly discriminated against a gay customer on the ground of sexual orientation, religious belief or political opinion when they refused to provide him with a cake stating the words "Support Gay Marriage." The Court noted that the rights to freedom of religion and freedom of expression under the European Convention on Human Rights required that a service provider could not be compelled to express a message with which they disagreed, unless that compulsion could be justified.

Court of Appeal Finds Employer Vicariously Liable for Employee’s Deliberate Data Breach

Precedential Decision by Judiciary or Regulatory Agency

Author: Deborah Margolis, Associate — Littler United Kingdom

On October 22 2018, the UK Court of Appeal held that a supermarket chain in the UK was vicariously liable (but not directly liable) when an employee committed a deliberate criminal act and disclosed the personal data of 100,000 employees. The supermarket chain has expressed its intention to appeal this case to the UK Supreme Court.

Non-Executive Directors Found Personally Liable to Whistleblower for Post-Termination Losses

Precedential Decision by Judiciary or Regulatory Agency

Author: Ben Smith, Trainee Solicitor — Littler United Kingdom

On October 19, 2018, the UK Court of Appeal found that two non-executive directors were personally liable to a whistleblower for losses flowing from the termination of his employment. This case clarifies that, in the whistleblowing context, while it is not possible to make a claim against the employer for losses flowing from a detriment, where that detriment is dismissal, a claim may prevail against individual employees. An employer could potentially, however, be vicariously liable in this claim, despite there being no direct liability. In practice, this decision is likely to lead to claimants pleading multiple claims against both the employer and relevant individuals to maximize their chances of success.

Company Vicariously Liable for Managing Director’s Assault of Employee at Social Event

Precedential Decision by Judiciary or Regulatory Agency

Author: Hannah Mahon, Partner — Littler United Kingdom

On October 11, 2018, the Court of Appeal found that a company was vicariously liable for its managing director’s assault of an employee, which occurred during a heated discussion of work matters while some employees were having drinks following the company’s Christmas party. The Court of Appeal found that the assault was “in the course of employment” because, among other factors, the director had been discussing work matters when the assault took place and the company had partially funded the social event. The facts here are unusual, but the case is a reminder that employers should be conscious of the risks of vicarious liability arising from employees’ actions at social events.

Court of Appeal Clarifies Law on Less Favorable Treatment of Part-Time Workers

Precedential Decision by Judiciary or Regulatory Agency

Author: Kate Potts, Associate — Littler United Kingdom

The UK Court of Appeal on November 2, 2018, ruled that a part-time worker required to be available for work for 53.5% of the days of a full-time employee, but paid only 50% of the full-time employee’s salary was prima facie treated less favorably than full-time employees. Less favorable treatment of part-time workers is prohibited, unless it can be objectively justified. This case reaffirms that the starting point for fair treatment of part-time workers should be to pro rate benefits and conditions. The case now returns to the High Court to consider whether the difference in treatment was justified.

Information contained in this publication is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or opinion, nor is it a substitute for the professional judgment of an attorney.