Protect your business and your employees

DID YOU KNOW…

As an employer, ensuring you don’t discriminate may not be enough to protect your business and your employees.  

You might have to disprove discrimination:

If an employee claims your treatment of them has been affected by any of the nine grounds under which discrimination is prohibited, the burden of proof shifts to the employer to disprove discrimination. You need to make sure that you are leading by example, and that you avoid any imputations of discrimination, bullying or harassment, by knowing exactly what the law requires from you as an employer. This information should be contained in your own written Policies, which will guide and protect you.

Employers need to be sure that their staff know their rights, and to be aware that having the right written policy is not enough: The Labour Court made an award to the applicant in Rasaq v Campbell Catering in 1998, as Ms. Rasaq had not been told she was entitled to have a representative present at a disciplinary hearing. The court commented that this might have been avoided if the policy document covering disciplinary procedures had been translated and/or if its dissemination had included appropriate training.

If your staff or customers behave in a way that demonstrates prejudice against your employee on the basis of any of the nine grounds, that employee could be experiencing harassment. Under the Acts, this could constitute discrimination and, as the employer, you would be held responsible.

What does a good Dignity in the Workplace Policy look like? How does it relate to your Grievance & Disciplinary Policy?  

The policy should contain a clear and concise commitment to eliminate any homophobic, racial or sexual harassment, or harassment under any of the other grounds, and it should detail the process that is in place to deal with any such behaviour.

It is not enough to have a written policy – you must ensure that it is disseminated and understood, and that the procedures are adhered to in practice.

Remember that the onus is on the employer to safeguard against all forms of harassment, in respect of all workplace relationships:

  •  Management to staff;
  • Between staff members;
  • Staff to clients or customers;
  • Clients or customers to staff. 

In a 2004 case against the Shelbourne Hotel,  The Labour Court confirmed that the onus is on the employer to prevent racial harassment in the workplace, and spelled out the steps that must be taken… 

  • Investigate complaints;
  • Don’t hold a complaint against the complainant;
  • Implement your equality policy;
  • Provide support to the complainant.
  • At the very least, be sure to properly disseminate the Bullying & Harassment Policy.

When Techniform (Waterford) Ltd hired an investigator to inquire into an imputation of harassment, but failed to provide support to the person experiencing it, this constituted discrimination on the ground of race. The company had never even distributed the policy, a fact which was reflected in the award made against it.

Avoid all this with an all-inclusive package that will ensure that you have written policies in place that will guide and protect you and your staff, and that these are properly disseminated, in other words, that each and every member of your staff understands his/her rights and responsibilities in the workplace:

  • Auditing and updating of your workplace policies, tailored to your workplace in light of best practice recommendations of the Law Society of Ireland and the Labour Relations Commission;
  • Training of staff and management, so that each and every member of staff is thoroughly familiar with your workplace Policies;
  • Follow-up: three FREE consultations, should you need advice about your workplace relations;
  • Full satisfaction guarantee, & a FULL REFUND on request if you and your staff don’t feel thoroughly protected in your workplace when the process is complete.

The cost to you of €500 (+ VAT) could save you thousands. Call me or email claire@cmcsolicitor.ie to find out more.