Interesting decision from the Reading Employment Tribunal that a manager's comments to a female member of staff which included reference to her marital status and the fact that she didn't have children did not amount to harassment or direct discrimination. The Employment Tribunal accepted that the manager's remarks were 'unfortunate and awkward' but, in line with a previous decision of the Employment Appeal Tribunal, felt it was important not to encourage a 'culture of hypersensitivity'.
Is this case helpful for employers? Well - yes and no. Whilst it is interesting to see reference to the EAT decision, decisions of the Employment Tribunal (which this case is) are not binding on other Tribunals and, in any event, it will be a bold (and unwise) employer who sees this as a free pass to say what you like to your staff - professional, considered and appropriate interactions remain the order of the day. Nonetheless the reference to not encouraging a culture of hypersensitivity could be useful if clumsy words are used and you find yourself defending a claim.