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Conteh v Parking Partners Ltd - No liability under (now-repealed) RRA 1976 for third party harassment beyond employer's control [2010] EAT

Under the (now repealed) Race Relations Act 1976, an employer is not liable to an employee for the actions of third parties who are outside of their control, in circumstances where the actions create a hostile, intimidatory, degrading, offensive or humiliating environment for the employee and could otherwise have amounted to direct race discrimination and racial harassment - provided the employer's perceived inaction was not on the grounds of race.

Editor's note: under Equality Act 2010 sec 40 there can now be liability for third party harassment if certain conditions are met; whether the outcome in this case would necessarily be the same under the new law, therefore, is an interesting point to consider.  

Black African Ms Conteh was employed by Parking Partners Ltd (PPL) as a Customer Car Park Attendant working at a car park below St.George's Residential Development in Southwark, London. The car park was accessed by daily or season tickets as standard, but those employed by St.George's Marketing Unit were allowed to park there for free provided they had their car park ticket validated. Ms Conteh was instructed to not let anyone leave the car park without a validated ticket. In March 2009 the manager of the Marketing Unit (Miss Wrightson) attempted to leave without a validated ticket - Ms Conteh advised them not to do so. The next day another member of the Unit (Carolanne) spoke to Ms Conteh about the incident, swearing repeatedly and using racist language towards her. Later that day, Miss Wrightson and Carolanne deliberately blocked the exits to the car park and shouted at Ms Conteh. Ms Conteh reported the incidents to her manager, and the message was relayed to the head of PPL (Mr Shipley).

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