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Are your policies fit for purpose?

You may recall the recent case of Allay v Gehlan in which Mr Ali brought claims of discrimination harassment related to race, where the claimant’s former colleague had been found to have made racist comments and had subsequently been made to undergo quality and adversity training.

In its defence, the respondent tried to rely on the “reasonable steps” defence, stating that staff had undergone relevant training prior to the acts of harassment. The reader may recall that employers can in certain circumstances deny vicarious liability for acts of discrimination by its employees where those employers have taken all “reasonable steps” to eliminate the risk of discriminatory actions/behaviour, which clearly would include putting in place appropriate policies and ensuring appropriate training is given.

In the event, respondent (Gehlen) was found wanting, not because it didn’t have an equality policy (it did), but that policy was flawed and there had been no effective training (employment judge Taylor referred to “training that will last”).

What naturally follows is that training is an essential component of an effective workplace. Further, the training itself should be refreshed regularly including the content. Whilst there is no legal requirement to enforce employers to make staff undergo equality and diversity training in particular, we are seeing more more cases where this form of training, and regular refreshes, would certainly have been beneficial for our company clients.