As a result of two recent cases it is now easier to bring claims of workplace harassment under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997. Separate incidents can be linked and looked at in the round to see if there is a "course of conduct" amounting to harassment under the Act.
The claimant in Marinello v City of Edinburgh Council had alleged that he had been a victim of workplace bullying and harassment during 2004 and 2005 and then, 17 months after the last of those incidents, he had suffered abuse from the alleged harassers, in a public place whilst he was off sick. The claim would have been out of time unless the latest incident could be linked to the others.
The Scottish Court of Session held that the only requirement for a course of conduct was for there to be conduct on at least two occasions. An interval of 17 months did not automatically mean that there was an insufficient connection between the two events and the fact that the last incident occurred in public was not significant given that the applicant's work (supervising offenders serving community service sentences) was frequently carried out in a public place. The fact that he was on sick leave was also of little significance. Looking at the facts as a whole, there was a course of conduct sufficient to sustain a claim under the Act.
This case comes hard on the heels of the Court of Appeal decision in Iqbal v Dean Manson Solicitors, where the Court somewhat controversially said that it is not necessary for each of the incidents relied on to establish a course of conduct to amount in itself to harassment.