Employer liability for Discrimination following Brexit

Following the EU Referendum result on 23rd June there have been many reports of racist attacks across the UK.  As an employer it is important to realise that you may be liable for the actions of your employees and this includes acts of discrimination and harassment. It does not matter whether or not the discrimination was done with the knowledge or consent of the employer.

Some people are aware that there is a defence to this. That defence is that the employer took ALL reasonable steps to prevent the discrimination or harassment from happening but this is much harder to prove than it sounds.

It is simply not enough for an employer to say we have an anti-discrimination policy or that we did not know.

In light of the recent outbursts by individuals in person and in social media employers should take the opportunity to remind employees of the zero tolerance for discrimination.

They may wish to have  team meeting or circulate an email which highlights the company views on discrimination and equality.

Perhaps set up a reporting system so that any victims of post Brexit discrimination have a clear idea of who they can turn to and take all reports of discrimination and harassment seriously.

Remind staff of your social media policy and that they may be seen as representing the business when posting their views in this setting.

Some acts of discrimination are more subtle than others so find a way either in a team briefing or otherwise to educate your staff on the more obscure behaviours which could be deemed as discrimination or harassment.

Finally and importantly, make sure you document whatever measures you take to prevent discrimination in the workplace so that you have tangible evidence just in case you are subject to an employment tribunal claim.

If you would like to more specific advice on how to deal with matters in your workplace fill in the contact form at www.orchardemploymentlaw.co.uk or call 01634 564136.

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