An artillery officer won a case based on acts of harassment and breaches under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997.
She had received a promotion from working in the stores to becoming a driver. She had done the job for a month when she fell ill with stress from the extreme hours involved. She had asserted her rights in the past as she had had to do through 2 upheld complaints, a need to secure time off to care for her disabled child, an event of a serious sexual assault and an accident for which her employer had admitted liability.
Much of this had come to her employer’s attention just as she was to be promoted and they had heeded unsubstantiated gossip that she was a trouble maker.
They then took advantage of her illness to try to drive her out of her job. First they manipulated an administrative error in failing to register her new job to state she could not resume the job. They misleadingly implied to higher authorities she had never actually started her new job and thus a new driver was required. They then told her that her old job was filled too and that she had to repay a month’s salary wrongly paid to her. When personnel made clear they could not do this and had to await her return from injury, they issued a final written warning based on her certified absence through illness, and finally, on expiry of the warning, a written discharge from her job without explanation or good reason.
The Judge found these were deliberate premeditated hostile acts to drive her out, based on the subjective perception of 3 officers that she did not fit in.
She only made out three of 26 allegations under the guiding test of what is “oppressive and unreasonable”. Many of the others revolved around a personality clash, eg colleagues calling her a “barrack room lawyer”.
But even two proven allegations of harassment, if the actions are connected, are sufficient to make out a “course of conduct” to give rise to liability under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997.
In this case there was a build up of deliberate and unnecessary hostile pressure on the claimant to make her leave her job.
There was a further connected act of harassment in replacing pornographic photographs on the wall of the unisex rest room so as to cause her distress, when she as the only full time female using the room, had taken them down.
Rayment -v- MOD  18 February 2010 QBD