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Employers Warned: Take Racial Abuse Seriously

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Following the recent high profile case of John Terry and his acquittal of charges of alleged racial abuse on the football pitch, we would remind employers that they should   act cautiously - but swiftly - when managing allegations of racial abuse in the workplace.

hlw Keeble Hawson LogoThe much publicised incident of alleged racist abuse on the football pitch could well be mirrored in a workplace setting between colleagues, with potentially devastating consequences.

Employers should always  take any incidents of reported racism extremely  seriously: if such claims aren’t dealt with correctly and the abuser is left unpunished, then the employer as well as the abuser could have claims of discrimination filed against them. In the most extreme scenario a victim could also claim constructive dismissal if they resign as a result of the employer’s failure to deal with the situation.

It is often very hard to find proof in relation to allegations of racism in the workplace, and potentially inflammatory comments can be dismissed as banter. However, if an employee is claiming they are being racially abused, the situation must be dealt with swiftly and effectively but only after a thorough and balanced investigation. If the employer fails to do this then there can be serious consequences, not least of which is a costly employment tribunal.

Companies must be vigilant in taking any report of racism seriously. Having the appropriate disciplinary procedures in place will help them to react quickly and manage any suspected abusers. Likewise a culture of open and sound communication between employer and employees can help to ensure grievances are dealt with promptly before they can escalate.

For further information on this case or for any advice on any Employment  issue, please contact Paul Grindley on 0113 3993424

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