As an employer you are probably well aware of the risks of a member of your workforce bringing a discrimination claim. Such claims have no cap to their financial value and while rarer, there are a number of examples of compensation running into six figure awards. What is more, successful discrimination claims cause wider damage as it can lower the morale of other members of the workforce and impact on both recruitment and retention.
So we understand the impact discrimination claims can have but is there anything that can be done to protect ourselves?
What many employers don’t realise is that an employer has a defence to discrimination claims which have been caused by a member of their workforce if it can show that it took all reasonable steps to prevent that individual from doing the discriminatory act or from doing anything of that description. In practice, there are several steps an employer will want to take to help avail themselves of this defence, chief amongst them are:
- Having and implementing an equal opportunities policy and an anti-harassment and bullying policy and reviewing those policies as appropriate;
- Making all of the workforce aware of the policies and their implications;
- Training managers and supervisors in equal opportunities and harassment issues; and
- Taking steps to deal effectively with complaints, including taking appropriate disciplinary action.
Okay I have trained my staff so that is us covered… right?
No! The recent case of Allay (UK) Ltd v Ghelen found that the employer’s training had gone ‘stale’ and that they could not avail themselves of the ‘reasonable steps defence’ above as a result. What was surprising in this case was that the training had been given only two years earlier. This case should act as a stark warning to those employers whose equality training isn’t kept up to date and who haven’t thought through what other steps they could take to prevent discrimination in the workplace.
The question therefore remains, is this the time, as an employer, to repair the roof and ensure your equality act training is up to date?
Our team of expert lawyers are here to assist you and feel free to contact our James Monk on 0345 20 73 72 8 or firstname.lastname@example.org who can provide you with a quote for both bespoke and cost-effective training packages. James has a wealth of experience in training both senior management teams and factory floor and office workers in a variety of settings from large nationally known employers to small SME’s and charities.