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'Another nice mess you've gotten me into' employers' liability for workplace banter.

Middlemiss, Sam


Sam Middlemiss


Banter has been defined in the Oxford Dictionary as 'the playful and friendly exchange of playful remarks.' This suggests that it is a form of dialogue or conversation that is; welcome, non-threatening and appreciated by the recipient. However, this is often not the case and this article will consider the legal rules dealing with banter where it is threatening, unwanted or oppressive to the recipient. Where there is a discriminatory aspect to the banter the protection provided under equality law will be considered. Banter can be directed at workers with different characteristics (e.g. disability, age, religion, sex, race or sexual orientation) and this article will consider discriminatory banter whatever the basis. The different types of dialogue falling under the term banter will be analysed and the extent to which legal protection is in place to deal with it will be considered. The statutory legal rules dealing with harassment and bullying in the UK are the most relevant to controlling workplace banter and accordingly will be given primary consideration. Finally recommendations will be made for improving both management practice and the law in this area.


MIDDLEMISS, S. 2017. 'Another nice mess you've gotten me into' employers' liability for workplace banter. International journal of law and management [online], 59(6), pages 916-938. Available from:

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Nov 1, 2017
Online Publication Date Nov 13, 2017
Publication Date Dec 31, 2017
Deposit Date Nov 16, 2017
Publicly Available Date Nov 16, 2017
Journal International journal of law and management
Print ISSN 1754-243X
Electronic ISSN 1745-2448
Publisher Emerald
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 59
Issue 6
Pages 916-938
Keywords Workplace banter; Verbal harassment; Language; Behaviour; Bullying
Public URL


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