A recent case brought to Tribunal stems from an alleged simple act of omission. A Muslim employee claims she was not invited to the Company’s Christmas party because of her race and religion. The facts of the case are yet to become clear but it highlights how thoughtlessness may lead to discrimination and, worse still, creating a culture of discrimination, in the workplace. Employers are responsible for the acts or omissions of employees and can face hefty penalties if such acts or omissions are found to be discriminatory.
Employees may not be aware that their actions are discriminatory. In this example, perhaps someone thought an invitation to a Christian festival would offend the Muslim employee. Perhaps, however the Muslim employee felt that she was being excluded and was not regarded as one of the team, and has drawn the conclusion that this is due to her religion. How far can banter go before it becomes bullying. How about comments about appearance – are they sexist or ageist?
Employers must ensure that all employees are not only aware of, but are fully trained in, the Company’s Discrimination, Harassment and Bullying policy, so they fully understand how indirect or unintentional discrimination can arise. How often do you remind your employees of your policy? How seriously do you take complaints?
If you need advice and guidance on discrimination please view our guidance on religious discrimination for further resources or contact us for assistance. Subscribing to myhrdept.co.uk is easy, with packages available that include employment tribunal protection & losses ….simply click here for subscription options or contact us to discuss your requirements.