Ali v (1) Heathrow Express Operating Company Ltd (2) Redline Assured Security Ltd [2022] EAT 54

Appeal against decision that the use of the phrase Allahu Akbar in a security training exercise was harassment under the Equality Act 2010

The claimant works for the Heathrow Express (the first respondent) and the second respondent was responsible for carrying out security checks at Heathrow Airport, including Heathrow Express stations there. In 2017 it carried out a test using a bag containing a box, electric cabling and a piece of paper with the words “Allahu Akbar” written in Arabic. The claimant, a Muslim, was among a group of employees of the first respondent who were circulated with an email reporting on the results of the test and including images of the bag and the note. He complained to the ET that the conduct amounted to either direct discrimination or harassment and the second respondent had acted as agent. The tribunal rejected the claims of harassment because, applying section 26(4) of the 2010 Act, the claim was unreasonable and, in particular, the tribunal considered that the claimant should have understood that the second respondent had used the phrase to produce a suspicious item based on possible threats to the airport: they were not seeking to associate terrorism with Islam.

The EAT dismissed the appeal finding the decision was not perverse explaining at [61]

“The tribunal made proper findings that the conduct was not directed at the claimant because of his religion, that the phrase had been used in connection with recent high-profile terrorist attacks, that it was, for that particular reason, chosen to reinforce the suspicious nature of the package, and that the claimant should have reasonably appreciated that. These were all features of the circumstances to which it was entitled to have regard when deciding whether it was reasonable for him to perceive the conduct as having the proscribed effect. We do not think any of these other points or arguments show that it was bound nevertheless to decide otherwise”

The challenge for lack of reasons also failed as there no reason to suppose that the tribunal’s failure to mention propositions such as “that the vast majority of Muslims do not behave in the manner of the terrorist extremists, or support them” was because it had failed to consider them, or took issue with them as they regarded them as uncontroversial.

Published: 18/04/2022 10:49

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