Welcome guest, please log in here   |    T +44(0)115 7180333   |   E   info@halborns.com

Archive

Discrimination

Create appropriate space for breastfeeding – new decision

Posted on: July 27th, 2022 by Halborns Limited

A recent tribunal decision has found that employers must provide employees with a private workspace to express breastmilk to avoid successful claims for sex-related harassment claim.

Background 

A teacher returning from maternity leave informed her employer a number of times that she would need somewhere to express breastmilk whilst at work. The school failed to support her request meaning she used her lunch break to express in her car or in the school toilets. The tribunal held that the employer’s behaviour created a degrading and humiliating environment for the teacher, and therefore amounted to sex-related harassment.

Practical takeaway 

Return to work – the school in this instance were specifically called out for their ‘incompetence’ in managing the employee’s return to work. Any employee returning from maternity leave may have concerns or reservations, so ensuring you’re carrying out a timely risk assessment to pick up on and address any possible issues (then acting accordingly) will help to mitigate potential challenge.

Health and safety – whilst there’s no statutory right to facilities in order to express breastmilk, the Health and Safety Executive provide specific guidance that a private and clean environment should be provided as well as a fridge in order to store expressed milk.

If you need support in managing a return to work or requests from employees, Intelligent Employment is here to help – get in touch. 

 

This update is accurate on the date it was sent (27 July 2022), but may be subject to change which may or may not be notified to you. This update is not to be taken as advice and you should seek advice if anything contained within affects you or your business.

Refusal to use preferred pronouns

Posted on: July 19th, 2022 by Halborns Limited

A Christian doctor refused to use transgender service users’ preferred pronouns – the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) found that his dismissal was not discriminatory. 

Background

The doctor worked as a health and disability assessor. He refused to use the preferred pronouns of transgender service users based on his Christian faith and belief that people are born male and female and cannot change their sex or gender. This belief conflicted with his employer’s policy to refer to transgender service users ‘in their presented gender at all times’.

The EAT held that such beliefs could be protected under the Equality Act 2010. They also held, however, that due to the way the doctor had expressed his beliefs and taking into consideration the employer’s policy, the employer had not discriminated against the doctor by protecting potentially vulnerable service users in the way they had.

Practical takeaways

Balancing act – as we’ve seen in another recent decision, freedom of expression must be balanced with respect for others. Respectful communication and behaving with dignity can be reminded through up-to-date training and policies. Get in touch for access to our gender identity policy.

Focus on facts – this decision (and similar) are highly fact sensitive, so approach cautiously. The impact of the doctor’s beliefs on service users was key, as was his lack of any attempt to seek adjustments that would cater for his beliefs.

The last word – the doctor has expressed his intention to take his case to the Court of Appeal meaning this may not be the last word we hear on this. We’ll update you when we know more.

Our Intelligent Employment platform includes a gender identity policy to support you to champion a workplace environment where everyone feels included with the freedom to express themselves – find out more about accessing Intelligent Employment.

Gender Identity | 21 July – sign up for our latest webinar 

In celebration of Pride, we’ve joined forces with GIRES (the Gender Identity Research & Education Society) to bring you practical, real-world guidance on gender identity (click here for all the detail). Join our webinar on 21 July 2022 @ 10 am and register your place today!

This update is accurate on the date it was sent (19 July 2022), but may be subject to change which may or may not be notified to you. This update is not to be taken as advice and you should seek advice if anything contained within affects you or your business.

Tribunal decision – gender-critical beliefs may be protected by the Equality Act

Posted on: July 12th, 2022 by Halborns Limited

A recent tribunal decision has shown that individuals holding gender-critical beliefs may be protected under the Equality Act 2010 (EQA). 

Background 

The individual was engaged as a consultant and posted a series of opinions on her personal social media account regarding amendments to the Gender Recognition Act. Her belief was that “biological sex is real, important, immutable, and not to be conflated with gender identity”.

Colleagues complained that her comments were offensive and following an investigation, her consultancy agreement was not renewed. The tribunal found her beliefs amounted to a genuine philosophical belief for the purposes of the EQA meaning that Act therefore protected her. The tribunal decided that she was discriminated against, as the reason for not renewing her consultancy was because she’d voiced her beliefs.

Practical takeaways 

Policies and training – freedom of expression must be balanced with respect for others. Through training and policies, the importance of respectful communication and behaving with dignity can be reminded, along with where to turn if individuals have concerns.

Colleague care – consider helplines and colleague champions to remind those with concerns of the routes to redress.

Manager support – ensure managers understand your policies and who is there to support them in managing any concerns raised within their team.

Our Intelligent Employment platform includes a gender identity policy to support you to champion a workplace environment where everyone feels included with the freedom to express themselves – find out more about accessing Intelligent Employment.

Gender Identity | 21 July – sign up for our latest webinar 

In celebration of Pride, we’ve joined forces with GIRES (the Gender Identity Research & Education Society) to bring you practical, real-world guidance on gender identity (click here for all the detail). Join our webinar on 21 July 2022 @ 10 am and register your place today!

This update is accurate on the date it was sent (12 July 2022), but may be subject to change which may or may not be notified to you. This update is not to be taken as advice and you should seek advice if anything contained within affects you or your business.

‘Good girl’ comments were sexual harassment

Posted on: May 26th, 2022 by Halborns Limited

A recent tribunal decision found that an employee being repeatedly called a ‘good girl’ by her male boss amounted to sexual harassment.

Background 

Over a three-month period, the employee was repeatedly called a ‘good girl’ by her older male boss. The tribunal held that this behaviour amounted to sexual harassment as referring to a woman in this way was “demeaning” and used as a way to reinforce his authority over her.

Practical takeaways

Adequate training – another reminder that training on harassment needs to be robust and regularly refreshed. The tribunal found the employer’s training to be too simplistic and showed no commitment to genuinely tackling harassment. They also noted that acceptable language evolves over time meaning your training should keep pace to appropriately educate employees on what is and isn’t acceptable.

Tick-box policy – bullying, harassment and inclusivity policies must be dynamic and engaging. In this case, the tribunal specifically called out the employer’s out of date policies as simply “paper commitments to equality issues”.

Our survey – your thoughts

Aviva’s CEO was recently told by shareholders that she’s “not the man for the job” and she should be “wearing trousers”. We’d like to hear your experiences with sexual harassment and sexist comments in the workplace if you’re comfortable sharing – here’s our short survey.

Our survey is entirely anonymous and any responses gathered will only be used by us for the purposes of our continued employment law updates on this topic.

 

This update is accurate on the date it was sent (26 May 2022), but may be subject to change which may or may not be notified to you. This update is not to be taken as advice and you should seek advice if anything contained within affects you or your business.

Tribunal decision – ‘bald’ insult was sex-related harassment

Posted on: May 19th, 2022 by Halborns Limited

Calling a colleague a “bald (expletive)” during an argument was found to be sex-related harassment in a recent tribunal decision.

Background 

An employee called a “bald (expletive)” by his supervisor has successfully sued his employer for sex-related harassment. The tribunal held that the “bald” insult was “inherently related to sex” – women can experience baldness, but it’s much more prevalent in men and this was sufficient to amount to sex-related harassment.

Practical takeaways

People policies – it goes without saying that ensuring you have the right policies and processes in place is the starting point – think ‘dignity and respect at work’, ‘bullying and harassment’ (we’ve got everything you need on Intelligent Employment).

Training – policies need to be trained on and communicated regularly to be effective in setting appropriate boundaries. Employees should be aware that just because something can be experienced by both males and females, tribunals (like in this case) will be willing to uphold claims for sex-related harassment if it’s more prevalent in one sex than the other. It’s also a worthwhile reminder that managers can be sued personally for harassment so training provides a great opportunity to avoid personal liability.

Zero-tolerance – harassment without consequence breeds a culture of further harassment. Even with the right policies and training an acceptance of harassment is highly likely to lead to claims and compensation. Act quickly, investigate thoroughly and deal with all harassment concerns consistently.

We can help to make sure you’ve got the right policies, training and advice in place – get in touch to find out how

 

This update is accurate on the date it was sent (19 May 2022), but may be subject to change which may or may not be notified to you. This update is not to be taken as advice and you should seek advice if anything contained within affects you or your business.