The Importance of In-House Training
27th May, 2021
The importance of training with a view to preventing discrimination in the workplace has been highlighted in a number of recent Tribunal decisions, which come into stark focus during the last year in which the Equality Act 2010 (“EqA”) reached its 10-year anniversary and global events have highlighted the need to raise awareness and update understanding and knowledge of equality and diversity.
In the case of Sidhu v Exertis, Southampton ET held that the Claimant was subjected to sustained racial bullying and harassment by his colleagues in the form of discriminatory comments (which were considered entertaining banter within the workplace), and acts of discrimination including: hiding his belongings and applauding if he arrived late for work. His claims succeeded against individual Respondents and his employer, Exertis.
A remedy hearing is listed for September 2021 in which it is reported that the Claimant is seeking over £6 million for loss of earnings, injury to feelings, aggravated damages and injury to health for psychological damage caused.
If this remedy claim succeeds, it will be the largest financial award made to an individual Claimant in the Employment Tribunal.
Following the allegations being raised, the employer announced that it introduced diversity and inclusion training as an outcome of its investigations.
In the case of Allay UK Ltd v Gehlen, the ET found that although employees had been trained before the alleged actions of discrimination, that training had become stale after two years and commented:
“brief and superficial training is unlikely to have a substantial effect in preventing harassment. Such training is also unlikely to have long-lasting consequences. Thorough and forcefully presented training is more likely to be effective and to last longer”
Employers (regardless of size) are vicariously liable for the actions of their employees. S. 109 (4) EqA provides a statutory defence to a discrimination claim which is available to an employer if it can demonstrate that it took all reasonable steps to prevent employees from doing “that thing” or “anything of that description” – being unlawful acts of discrimination. This includes the need for ‘thorough and forcefully presented’ training and updates which should be regularly delivered to all employees – not just HR teams!
All employers should be running regular equality and diversity training as one of the essential elements of their commitment to the development of a positive culture of dignity and respect.
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