The Eric Whitehead Partnership

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  • In September 2004, the Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT) held that the downloading of pornography on the internet at work by a man in the presence of a woman can be regarded as sex discrimination. However, the EAT also held that an employer could have a defence if it could successfully prove that the woman was a party to what the man was doing.
  • From October 2004, companies and organisations that are open to the public have been required to ensure that their premises are reasonably accessible to disabled people. The Disability Rights Commission (DRC) is about to bring the first action of its kind in respect of breaches of the new access rules. It is said that almost half of British companies have yet to comply with the new rules. The penalties for breaching the rules can be high – a fine of up to £50,000. What is reasonable depends on a number of factors, particularly the size of the business or organisation in question.
  • In January 2005, the Court of Appeal made a number of decisions in respect of the issue of stress at work. In particular, the Court decided that:-
  • an employer who fails to do anything if it discovers that an employee is depressed at work may be liable for any psychiatric injury suffered by that employee;
  • an employer is generally entitled to take any information given to it by its employees about their health at face value unless there is a reason to question the information provided;
  • an employer is only required to take reasonable steps to avoid stress at work; and
  • if an employer wishes to argue that an employee’s depression has been caused by factors outside the work place, it is for the employer to provide positive proof.

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