Discrimination at work

31 Oct

Discrimination can cost you dearly as a company.  England’s Women’s Football Team Manager, Mark Sampson was sacked after historic allegations of discrimination, racism and bullying came to the fore. http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/41617223

Fair and reasonable behavior in the workplace is a vital part of a successful business or public body. It is supported by the law - the Equality Act 2010 - and makes good business sense in running and developing your business.

The aim of the Equality Act is to improve equal job opportunities and fairness for employees and job applicants. Your business should have policies in place, so these outcomes happen and, just as importantly, to prevent discrimination.

To minimise the risk of discrimination against employees and job candidates there are nine protected characteristics under the Equality Act - age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation.

So, what happens if you get it wrong?

Allegations of discrimination are serious and need to be investigated fully and in great detail and can lead to a case for discrimination. Failures in an investigation can lead to a discrimination claim, which in turn can lead to unlimited compensation and a 25% uplift being awarded by a tribunal. It is therefore vital that all companies take any allegations of discrimination seriously and handle their investigations properly.

If there is a case to answer from an allegation following an investigation, then the employee should be invited in writing to a disciplinary hearing. They should be given at least 48 hours advance notice, a clear date, time and location of the hearing. It should be made clear who will be chairing the meeting, the allegations against them (these need to be clearly spelled out giving dates, times and detail) and forewarning of the possibility of dismissal. All the evidence in the case must be enclosed with this letter.

By taking allegations seriously and handling investigations properly, not only will you help employees feel confident that the matter is being taken seriously, you will also protect yourself from potentially costly tribunal claims.

Why not make use of our free half hour telephone consultation to get advice about an issue that you are experiencing. As the old saying goes, “a problem shared” …