Farting barrister loses harassment claim against colleague who asked him to stop

Tarique Mohammed told tribunal his repetitive flatulence was caused by medication

Prosecutor, who suffered a heart attack in 2014, also alleged he was discriminated against because of his disabilities. Photograph: iStock

Prosecutor, who suffered a heart attack in 2014, also alleged he was discriminated against because of his disabilities. Photograph: iStock

 

A senior British barrister who sued the Crown Prosecution Service for England and Wales after a colleague asked him to stop farting in the room they worked in together has lost his case.

Tarique Mohammed, who sued for harassment, told an employment tribunal that his repetitive flatulence was caused by medication 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 reasonable for McGorry to have asked him to stop.

The prosecutor, who had a heart attack in 2014, also alleged he was discriminated against because of his disabilities and made a number of further allegations against colleagues and bosses.

There were repeated incidents of flatulence in the quiet room. On one occasion Mr McGorry asked: ‘Do you have to do that, Tarique?’

He claimed they threw away his water bottles, asked him to work one day a week nearly 100km away and failed to pay for his barrister’s practising certificate while he was on sick leave.

The claims of disability-related discrimination were also thrown out by the panel, chaired by the employment judge Emma Hawksworth, in Reading, near London.

The prosecution service did accept that it treated Mohammed unfairly by not allowing him to work from home two days a week and leave work at 4pm to help him manage his condition, and by removing him from court duties, meaning he will receive compensation.

His heart condition meant he had to take daily medication whose side effects meant he had to remain at home for several hours after taking it. In 2016 he began sharing an office with McGorry, where the issue of his persistent flatulence was raised.

“Mr McGorry was aware the claimant had had a heart attack but he was not aware of what medication the claimant was taking or that flatulence was a side effect of the medication,” the tribunal was told. “There were repeated incidents of flatulence in the quiet room. On one occasion Mr McGorry asked: ‘Do you have to do that, Tarique?’”

Mohammed said that it was due to his medication and that when he was asked if he could step outside to do it, he said he could not.

The tribunal commented that it was not unreasonable to ask Mohammed to stop farting ‘when there had been repeated incidents of flatulence in a small office’

In February 2016 he was moved to another team that meant he did not have to attend court and was asked to work one day a week in Brighton, more than one hour’s drive from Guildford, where he was normally based.

He launched a grievance, which concluded that the prosecution service should have made allowances for him, and went on sick leave. His employment was terminated in April 2020.

The tribunal threw out Mohammed’s claims of disability-related harassment and victimisation. “Many of the incidents about which [he] complains were unrelated to his disability … or were caused or aggravated by [him] overreacting,” the panel said.

Of the flatulence, the tribunal commented: “Mr McGorry’s questions to [Mr Mohammed] were not asked with the purpose of violating [his] dignity or creating such an environment. It was not an unreasonable question to ask, when there had been repeated incidents of flatulence in a small office.” – Guardian

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