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Tolerance of discrimination at work is arguably at an all-time low. But if employers want to escape vicarious liability for the discriminatory acts of their employees, they need to do more than just have policies in place, argues Shoshana Bacall.
Anti-discrimination policies were all the rage when the Equality Act 2010 came into force. But apart from adding to an already unwieldy staff handbook, what purpose are these policies really serving?
On their own, these policies do little more than expose employers for not meeting their own self-proclaimed standards: for example, committing to investigate all complaints of harassment, informal or formal, and to training all managers.
Despite being on the to-do list, many employers reluctantly admit that training has not been carried out for some time, if at all: line managers have been dealing with discrimination and harassment complaints ad-hoc without any reference to the organisation’s policy at all.
Setting acceptable behaviour
Discrimination claims can be enormously damaging, exposing the employer, and individual perpetrator, to lasting reputational damage, uncapped compensation and irreparable divisions in the workforce.