Take discrimination in the workplace seriously
Vicarious Liability ?
You may be liable for the discrimination perpetrated by one of your employees upon another employee.
This could be the case if the wrongdoer commits the discrimination whilst in the course of their employment. Please be aware your liability could remain even if you have done nothing wrong or were aware the employee had done.
A good defence to such a claim would be if you took all reasonable steps to prevent such discrimination
What does ‘in the course of their employment’ mean?
The test the Courts apply is the“sufficient connection test” – in other words, were the wrongs carried out whilst closely connected to their employment.
What about acts outside of working hours?
This is a difficult question to answer and will be based on the individual facts of the case. For example a case of sexual harassment that occurred at the works Christmas party was found to be within the course of employment – as was the harassment that continued in the car journey on the way home from the party.
How successful would the ‘having taken all reasonable steps’ defence be?
Again each case will be dealt with on its merit, but an Employment Tribunal will have regard to the Equality Act 2010 Code of Practice on Employment produced by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (the Code). Guidance under the Code, suggests that reasonable steps might include:
- Implementing an equality policy
- Ensuring workers are aware of the policy
- Providing equal opportunities training
- Reviewing the equality policy, as appropriate and
- Dealing effectively with employee complaints.
There is detailed guidance in the Code on how to plan, implement, monitor and review an equality policy.