Has your training to prevent harassment in the workplace become ‘stale’?
Posted on 18th April 2021
Why providing regular and meaningful training to prevent harassment in the workplace is important.
The case Allay (UK) Ltd v Gehlen is a reminder that all employers should ensure that they regularly provide up to date and meaningful training to all their employees to prevent harassment in the workplace. Maximum weeks’ pay for calculating redundancy
Mr Gehlen stated that whilst working at the Company, he was regularly subjected to racist comments made by one of his colleagues which had been witnessed by a colleague and two managers. The comments that were made included that Mr Gehlen should go and work in a corner shop, he had brown skin and he was asked why he was in the country.
Following his dismissal, Mr Gehlen brought a claim for harassment related to race. The tribunal commented that although the Customer Service Manager had not heard the comments, Mr Gehlen had reported the comments to him. The Customer Service Manager had asked Mr Gehlen to report the behaviour, however, he did not take the matter further.
In the Company’s defence, Allay (UK) Ltd stated that it had taken ‘reasonable steps to prevent harassment and had provided training to its employees. It was accepted that the Company did have an Equal Opportunity Policy and Anti-bullying and harassment procedure. The tribunal accepted that the training had been provided, however, as it had been provided some time ago it was no longer effective. The reason for this conclusion was that a colleague and two managers who had known about the comments being made failed to take steps to report it. Although the training had stated that employees should report any behaviour they witness, this did not happen.
Summary Employers should provide regular refresher training, reminding their employees of the expected behaviour in the workplace and what to do if they witness any inappropriate behaviour. This case illustrates that providing ‘one-off’ training on equality and assuming that employees will ensure that they always adhere to the principles, is not something that employers can rely upon in a tribunal. It is also a reminder that those that are in a position of management have greater responsibility to ensure that they take action if it is brought to their attention.
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