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2
Nov 21

Posted by
Jennifer Patton

Don't Get Caught Out: Discrimination Case Law

We are all aware of how it is against the law to treat someone less favourably due to their gender, race, religion, age etc, but this does not mean that discrimination does not still occur in the workplace. In a recent case, the Employment Tribunal (ET) ruled in favour of an employee who was discriminated against when she was dismissed while on maternity leave for refusing to accept a lesser role with a £20,000 pay cut.

The claimant claimed that when she informed her colleagues of her pregnancy, she was asked how the pregnancy would affect her long-term career goals and the all-male executive team subjected her to "offensive and humiliating" comments, announcing they should "put a wager" on how much weight she would gain during her pregnancy.

During her maternity leave the company went through a restructure which included the dismissal of several executives. The new chief executive excluded the claimant in the restructuring and the claimant discovered from HR that she was no longer on the company email distribution lists or on the new organisational chart and was at risk of redundancy. In response, the company sought to offer her a revised job description for the director of marketing role which was a lower-level role than marketing director and also involved a £20,000 pay reduction. The claimant refused the role and was subsequently made redundant by the company.

The ET upheld her claims of unfair dismissal and maternity discrimination as there was a stark difference in the treatment the claimant received compared to her male colleagues, with the only explanation being due to the fact that she was on maternity leave. The tribunal found that not only was the job description offered to the claimant copied from other websites but also that no such role existed and the retained executives did not have their salaries reduced in order to stay with the company.

Although, a claim of harassment on grounds of pregnancy and maternity cannot be brought under the Equality Act, the ET concluded that the claimant was subjected to a “humiliating and degrading environment” when her colleagues placed a bet on how much weight she would gain during her pregnancy and that this amounted to direct discrimination and the ET awarded her £25,000 plus £5,000 in interest for injury to feelings.

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Posted in Bullying and Harassment, Discrimination, Dismissals, Employment Tribunals

6
Nov 17

Posted by
Jennie Hussey

How to Avoid Harassment in the Workplace

The recent allegations against Harvey Weinstein in the US have created somewhat of a snowball effect worldwide with thousands of women and men speaking out about their accounts of sexual harassment and assault, many of them being work related. Allegations involving high profile individuals and people in authority have demonstrated just how widespread a problem this has become across all industries and professions and has exposed a sinister culture of silence, fear and acceptance which we must now turn on its head.

In the UK, the Equality Act 2010 prohibits sexual harassment, defined as conduct of a sexual nature which has the purpose or effect of violating the victim’s dignity, or of creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment. Examples might include unwelcome sexual advances, displaying pornographic images, or sending emails containing material of a sexual nature.

Employers in the UK are responsible for their employees’ actions in the course of their employment, even if such actions are taken without the employer’s knowledge or approval. Employers should be able to demonstrate that all reasonable steps to prevent the employee from taking discriminatory action were taken, in order to build a successful defense.

Employers are therefore compelled to take steps to ensure a harassment-free work environment. Effectively organisations must set down clearly defined procedures to deal with all forms of harassment including sexual harassment.

There are a number of steps an employer can take to help prevent this type of behavior from occurring in the workplace:

A Bullying and Harassment policy

  •  to protect the dignity of employees and to encourage respect in the workplace

An Equal Opportunities policy

  • to create a workplace which provides for Equal Opportunities for all staff

A Whistleblowing policy

  • to enable staff to voice concerns in a responsible and effective manner.

Transparent and fair procedures throughout

Disciplinary action

  • A sanction that is appropriate for the level of alleged harassment – to help try and change the culture of silence that has allowed harassment to become normal and protected.

Provision of on-going training

  • At all levels within organisation

Bright Contracts has a fully customisable Staff Handbook, which includes a Bullying and Harassment Policy and also an Equality Policy and Whistleblowing Policy.

To book a free online demo of Bright Contracts click here
To download your free Bright Contracts trial click here

Posted in Bullying and Harassment, Company Handbook, Dismissals, Employee Handbook, Employment Tribunals, Staff Handbook

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