Employee Wins Harassment Case Against Colleague - After Employer Took All Reasonable Steps

Employee Wins Harassment Case Against Colleague - After Employer Took All Reasonable Steps

  • Date: Tuesday 24th September 2019
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A recent case has shown that when an employer takes all reasonable steps to train employees on equality and harassment prevention but an employee stills makes racist remarks, then that individual can be subject to action through the tribunal system.

In the case, a supervisor at Leeds City Council made racist comments to a team member and the Tribunal found that racial harassment had occurred, and the supervisor was ordered to pay compensation to the employee.

The case revolved around an incident where the supervisor and Council employee were driving to a job together.  The supervisor made a series of “unwanted comments” relating to the race and skin colour of the employee (a black Afro-Caribbean man) and the nationality of other road users.    The employee raised a grievance against his supervisor and after the Council took disciplinary action against the supervisor the employee was informed that he would not have to work under the supervisor again.  However, the supervisor remained in work and visible to the employee. 

The employee brought complaints of racial discrimination against the Council and the supervisor.  However, at a preliminary hearing the judge found the Council had taken all reasonable steps to prevent the supervisor making racist comments through comprehensive Equality Policy training.   Consequently, the Council did not have to go through a full tribunal hearing. 

The case proceeded against the supervisor and the tribunal ruled that he had subjected the employee to racial discrimination. The supervisor was ordered to pay the employee £2,769 (plus interest) for injury to feelings.

Learning for Employers

Leeds City Council was not subject to a tribunal because of the evidence they could provide relating to their Policy, Training and Record keeping.

Our advice to employers is to:

  • Ensure you have a good Equality or Equal Opportunities Policy and Harassment Free Workplace Policy
  • Ensure you train staff on the policies at Induction
  • Conduct refresher training to all employees at least annually
  • Keep detailed records of the training you deliver
  • Keep records of the action taken when a complaint is received

Source: People Management

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