London, Oct 2 (ANI): Brit MPs yesterday announced that the Labour's controversial Equality Act would be implemented immediately, which will allow office staff to sue for almost any perceived offence they receive in the workplace - a sure-fire way to the death of office jokes.
The legislation, championed by Labour's deputy leader Harriet Harman, creates the legal concept of 'third party harassment', under which workers will be able to sue over jokes and banter they find offensive - even if the comments are aimed at someone else and they weren't there at the time the comments were made, reports the Daily Mail.
They could even have a case against their employer if a customer or contractor says something they find offensive.
And business leaders warned that the equality laws could derail Britain's economic recovery, with fears that employers will face a tidal wave of trivial discrimination claims.
"This is Harriet Harman's politically correct legacy, full of stuff that is completely barmy to most people. It will be the end of the office joke," said Tory MP Philip Davies.
"It is a charter for lawyers and people who want to make vexatious complaints that will tie employers up in knots," he added.
Workers can cite 'discrimination by association' if they feel they have lost out because of an employer's prejudice against a relative, such as a gay brother.
However, the law is not being appreciated by all.
"If private sector businesses are to offset job losses in the public sector, the significant costs of employing people must be reduced. As austerity measures start to bite, companies need the flexibility and freedom to boost employment and drive our economic recovery," said Director-general David Frost.
Abigail Morris, policy adviser at the British Chambers of Commerce, said the Government's own impact assessment showed it would cost business 190million pounds just to get to grips with the new laws.
Sandra Wallace, of law firm DLA Piper, said the way the Act was being implemented was 'potentially confusing' for employers.
She said it would "risk protracted legal wrangles in employment tribunals that are already overstretched, and a general increase in claims." (ANI)