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Barrister loses tribunal case over being asked to stop farting

Makbool Javaid, Partner - Simons Muirhead & Burton

The Guardian reports that a senior barrister who sued the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) after a colleague asked him to stop breaking wind in the room they worked in together has lost his case. Tarique Mohammed sued for harassment and told an employment tribunal that his repetitive flatulence was caused by medication he was on for a heart condition.

He said the comment from his colleague Paul McGorry was “embarrassing” and violated his dignity – but the panel found it was a reasonable request to have asked him to stop. The prosecutor, who suffered a heart attack in 2014, also alleged he was discriminated against because of his disabilities and made a number of further allegations against his co-workers and bosses.

Following a punctuated hearing which began at Reading employment tribunal in December 2019 and ended in July 2021, Employment Judge Hawksworth said ‘significant elements’ of Mohammed’s grievances were upheld but the allegations of harassment and victimisation should be dismissed.

The judge added: ‘Many of the incidents about which the claimant complains were unrelated to his disability or his protected acts, or were caused or aggravated by the claimant over-reacting, being confrontational in approach or being defensive in response to errors by him.’

The tribunal heard that Mohammed had been employed as a senior crown prosecutor since 2004. In 2014 he took sick leave after suffering a heart attack. He required further surgery the following year after collapsing at home.

After this second health scare, the CPS admitted failing to allow the claimant to work from home for two days a week and failing to reduce Mohammed’s workload so as to alleviate his stress. His employer also did not make a reasonable adjustment to enable him to finish his working day at 4pm in order for him to take prescribed medication.

Mr. Mohammed was ultimately terminated from his role in 2020 but the tribunal dismissed his claims of disability-related harassment and victimisation.

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