Equal Ops Training – A Defence?

In Allay (UK) Ltd v Gehlen UKEAT/0031/20, the EAT upheld a tribunal's finding that an employer had failed to take all reasonable steps to avoid an employee being racially harassed by another, and could not rely on "stale" equality and diversity training.

It is generally accepted that having equal opportunity policies and procedures is not enough for an employer to escape liability for acts of discrimination carried out by its employees. The EAT emphasises that the mere fact of having training on those policies and procedures is also insufficient. The quality of the training is relevant, the EAT noting that "brief and superficial training is unlikely to have a substantial effect in preventing harassment nor will it have long-lasting consequences". It is also clear that if an employer has cause to believe that employees have forgotten the training, it should be refreshed. Employers should be encouraged to ensure that workplace training on discrimination is substantial in nature and conducted regularly, perhaps annually, to avoid it becoming "stale".

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