Ms Dhaliwal, a British citizen of Indian ethnic origin, was employed by Richmond Pharmacology Ltd. In September 2007 Ms Dhaliwal had resigned and was working her notice when the company’s medical director told her that their paths were likely to cross again in future ‘unless you are married off in India’. Ms Dhaliwal raised a grievance, which was not resolved to her satisfaction. She brought a claim before an employment tribunal, alleging racial harassment.

The tribunal held that the remark violated Ms Dhaliwal’s dignity and constituted harassment within the meaning of the Race Relations Act 1976. The company appealed on the grounds that the tribunal had not properly applied the test in the Act. The EAT dismissed the appeal. It stressed that the three separate elements of the test (unwanted conduct, purpose or effect of that conduct and the grounds for the conduct) should be examined and satisfi ed in order to establish liability. In this case all three elements were satisfied

However, the EAT did state that where the abuse is overtly racial, there is no need to examine the mental processes leading to offensive conduct.

Richmond Pharmacology Ltd v Dhaliwal