Has your equality and diversity training gone “stale”?

Feb 9, 2021

In January 2019 the Employment Tribunal held that Mr Gehlen (the Claimant) suffered race related harassment during his employment with Allay (UK) Limited (the Employer) and was awarded compensation. The Employer’s defence was rejected by the Tribunal and the Employer appealed this decision. The case here is Allay (UK) Ltd v Mr S Gehlen.

The Claimant was dismissed due to his performance in September 2017. Following his dismissal, the Claimant, who is of Indian origin, raised a race discrimination complaint against his colleague. The Claimant had discussed this issue with his manager, but nothing was done. After the allegation was raised with his employer following termination, the Employer investigated and found that racist comments had been made and the colleague was provided with further equality and diversity training.

The Tribunal recognised the Employer had anti-bullying, harassment and equal opportunities policies and that the colleague and manager had both completed equality training from January through to February 2015 and, as a result, the Employer attempted to rely on the defence that they had taken all “reasonable steps” from committing the harassment.

However, the Tribunal held that despite having training in place, it was a few years old and therefore at the point the discrimination occurred, it was “clearly stale”. The Tribunal did not accept the Employer’s defence that they had taken all reasonable steps because their view was the Employer had failed to take the reasonable step of simply updating the training. The Tribunal went on to say this was evidenced by both the colleague having committed the offence and the manager failing to deal with it properly.

The Employer appealed this decision and on 4 February 2021 the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) upheld the Employment Tribunal’s decision that the Employer’s training had become stale and required refreshing.

This case should remind employers that taking “reasonable steps” to prevent discrimination in the workplace includes regular equality and diversity training. Failing to do so could result in the employer being responsible for the actions of its employees and therefore liable to pay compensation. Our employment team regularly provide equality and diversity training to employers of all sizes. Please contact us if you would to discuss providing training to your organisation.

>> Judgement
>> Appeal

For further employment advice, please contact our Employment Group on 0118 977 4045 or employment@herrington-carmichael.com.

This reflects the law at the date of publication and is written as a general guide. It does not contain definitive legal advice, which should be sought as appropriate in relation to a particular matter.

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