New Discrimination Laws to Be Tested by Christmas Parties

Financial News, December 15, 2003 | Go to article overview

New Discrimination Laws to Be Tested by Christmas Parties


Byline: Sarah Butcher

Alcohol, bad behaviour and office Christmas parties are a well established combination. Thanks to new anti-discrimination laws in the UK there is now a greater chance that the resulting indiscretions will lead to a law suit.This month it became unlawful for an employer to discriminate against an employee on grounds of 'religion or belief' or sexual orientation. Lawyers say this could increase the numerous enquiries they already receive after Christmas party season and provide some early tests of the new regulations.

Naomi Feinstein, an employment lawyer at Lovells, a law firm, said: 'There are usually two potential problems at Christmas parties, one is gross misconduct induced by alcohol; the other is harassment.'

Feinstein said the new regulations will broaden the scope for complaints. For example, anyone who does not drink alcohol for religious reasons and is taunted for it at a Christmas party could potentially bring a claim. She advised employers not to make attendance seem mandatory and to provide alternative food to cater for different religions' dietary rules. …

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