Penalties for businesses who fail to train staff regularly on anti-discrimination

11th February 2021 1 min read Chris McAvoy

The importance of effective and frequent equal opportunities training was recently highlighted by the decision in the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) of Allay v Gehlen. In this case, the Claimant had been subjected to racist comments at work on a regular basis and subsequently succeeded in a claim for racial harassment, which led to liabilities for his employer.

Unfortunately, many organisations large and small, continue to overlook the relevance of equal opportunities training in the workplace. It is often seen simply as a “box ticking” exercise, rather than a desirable, and indeed necessary, part of their employees’ personal and professional development. Businesses that provide substandard, irregular – or no training at all – may well unwittingly become facilitators of discrimination and harassment within their teams – and in some cases, deny themselves a possible defence against legal claims, should they arise.

In the Allay case, the employer argued that, as the employees had all received equality and diversity training, they had taken the necessary “reasonable steps” to prevent the harassment. However, the EAT held that the training, which had been provided over a year before the harassment, had become “stale”, in light of the fact that the Claimant’s colleagues were making racist comments and the Claimant’s managers were failing to report such comments.

The Allay case affirms the importance of training staff regularly in anti-discrimination, to ensure it remains at the forefront of their minds when interacting with their colleagues at work.

If you, as an employer, have any questions about equal opportunities training and/or equal opportunities policies, please get in touch with us here at People Legal by calling 0800 368 8470 or emailing [email protected].  We’ll be glad to help you.