Equality and Diversity
The Equality Act 2010 sets out to improve and protect the working environment of UK employees by ensuring there is no discrimination in the workplace and elsewhere.
Discrimination on the following grounds are unlawful:-
- Sex discrimination
- Race discrimination
- Disability discrimination
- Age discrimination
- Discrimination on the basis of religion and belief
- Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation
There are several forms discrimination can take including:-
- Direct discrimination
- Indirect discrimination
In addition there has been case law applying the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 between employer and employee. The Act may cover harassment for any reason, even if it does not relate to sex, race, disability, etc and employers may become liable for damages for the acts of their employees. This can be used in cases of bullying at work.
With the increased use of social media by employees, the potential risks to the employer continue to grow.
Any breaches of your equal opportunities should be very seriously considered and disciplinary action is likely to be appropriate. This should be set out clearly in your policies and handbook.
Employees should be left in no doubt as to what is acceptable conduct and what will not be tolerated in the workplace. Once this is done and implemented (and monitored) correctly it may be possible for your business to defend a claim on the basis that it had done everything reasonably practicable to prevent the discriminatory behaviour. The policy should then be monitored on a regular basis and records should be kept as to which employees attended the training and when.
Tilly Bailey & Irvine’s Employment Team would be happy to help in drafting appropriate policies for your business. The team is highly experienced and very effective in dealing with all types of discrimination, including Tribunal Claims.