Liability of employers and employees under the Equality Act 2010
Liability of employers and employees under the Equality Act 2010

The following Employment guidance note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Liability of employers and employees under the Equality Act 2010
  • Types of liability
  • Vicarious liability of employers (and the employer's defence)
  • Liability for agents
  • Employers' liability for the actions of third parties
  • Liability of employees and agents
  • Instructing, causing or inducing contraventions
  • Aiding contraventions

Types of liability

An employer may be liable for contraventions of the Equality Act 2010 (EqA 2010):

  1. on its own behalf: see, generally, Practice Notes: Employment events which give rise to prohibited conduct claims and Equality of terms: how claims work

  2. vicariously, for the acts of its employees: see Vicarious liability of employers, below

  3. as principal, for the acts of its agents: see Liability for agents, below

The explicit protection that was previously afforded to employees against repetitive harassment by third parties, such as customers and suppliers, was repealed with effect from 1 October 2013. For further information, see: Employers' liability for the actions of third parties, below, and Practice Note: Harassment—Actions of third parties.

Employees and agents may also be personally liable for their own contraventions of EqA 2010 (see Liability of employees and agents, below), provided the employer or principal is vicariously liable for it as well (or would be but for the fact that the employer establishes the employer's defence—see the heading 'Defences to vicarious liability: the employer's defence' under Vicarious liability of employers (and the employer's defence), below).

An employer, principal, employee or agent may also be liable:

  1. for instructing, causing or inducing contraventions of EqA 2010: see Instructing, causing or inducing contraventions, below

  2. for aiding contraventions of EqA 2010: see Aiding contraventions, below

Vicarious liability