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Bullying & harassment in sport: How the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 helps protect athletes & employees

Selection of Sports Balls
Friday, 27 April 2018 By Nina Goolamali QC

In the last 12 months we have seen a publicity glare surrounding bullying and harassment in sport and media,1 ranging from the #MeToo campaign to complaints by individual athletes about bullying (see by illustration the ongoing Jess Varnish litigation2 against British Cycling, and the paralympian snowboarder Cassie Cava’s complaints3 against British Parasnowsport).

Accordingly, this article reviews the provisions of the Protection from Harassment Act 19974 and explores the extent to which the Act provides rights and remedies to those working in Sport who have been victims of such behaviour. Specifically, it looks at:

  • The Protection from Harassment Act 1997

    • Stated aim

    • The statutory prohibition against harassment

    • Harassment defined

    • Course of conduct

    • Excepted courses of conduct (defences)

  • Can an employer be vicariously liable for harassment under the 1997 Act?

  • Targeted harassment

  • Damages for harassment under the 1997 Act

  • The Act applied in a sports context

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Nina Goolamali

Nina Goolamali QC

Barrister, 39 Essex Chambers

“Nina is a powerhouse in sports law. She knows both the law and the market inside out. A brilliant team leader and a formidable opponent.” Legal 500 2022.

Nina Goolamali QC is highly regarded as a skilled and commercially astute advocate in her chosen fields of personal injury and sport. Described as being “one of the go-to QCs” and “inspiring confidence” she is regularly instructed on behalf of Defendants in multi-million pound press sensitive cases especially when a new duty or standard of care is being advanced.

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