first_imgRelated posts:No related photos. Employers urged to tightenup discrimination policiesOn 1 Nov 2002 in Personnel Today Employers will need more effective management and monitoring ofanti-discrimination policies to comply with new legislation from Europe,lawyers are warning. New draft regulations introducing protection from discrimination on thegrounds of sexual orientation and religious or philosophical belief are set tobecome law by the end of 2003. And they are going to make employers morevulnerable to liability. “Monitoring and management is going to be much more difficult than atpresent,” said Christopher Mordue, associate at Pinsent Curtis Biddle. “To a much greater extent we are talking about protecting parts of anindividual’s life which may be known only to those working most closely withthem,” he said. “It is those colleagues who may cause liabilitythrough inappropriate language or behaviour.” The legislation, particularly in relation to sexual orientation, is likelyto trigger a huge increase in discrimination and harassment claims broughtabout by offensive office banter, e-mails and other everyday aspects of theworking environment, he warned. “Employers should be using the time they have left to take a good hardlook not only at their paper equal opportunities policies but on how thosestatements are put into practice,” he said. The new laws relating to sexual orientation will at least bring clarity towhat has been a grey area. At present it is unclear whether gay employees haveany protection from harassment or discrimination. The case of Pearce vGoverning Body of Mayfield School in which a lesbian teacher is seekingcompensation under the Sex Discrimination Act 1975 for homophobic abuse bypupils, is set to be heard in the House of Lords during November. The new law, banning discrimination on grounds of religious or philosophicalbelief is likely to cause problems because of the lack of clarity on what kindsof ‘belief’ are covered. “In its draft form, the legislation will leave it open to the chair ofany employment tribunal to make essentially philosophical decisions about whattypes of discrimination could be considered,” said Rachel Dineley, partnerat Beachcroft Wansbroughs. Lawyers also foresee a raft of claims relating to time off for religiousobservances. In addition, for the first time in UK discrimination law the regulationswill introduce a definition of harassment that will apply across the board. It will outline a semi-subjective test whereby if the claimant reasonablybelieve she or she has been subjected to the kind of behaviour specified, thedefinition is met. There will also be a switch in the burden of proof in race discriminationclaims, in line with the amendments made to the SDA last year. “This is a fundamental change,” Mordue warns. “If you cannotcome up with a non-discriminatory explanation for apparently discriminatorytreatment, you lose – end of story.” What do the draft regulations contain?Race discrimination– Protection greatly increased– New wide-ranging right to protection from harassmentincluding by unions and employment agencies– Burden of proof reversed – Expected implementation date 1 July 2003Sexual orientation – Outlaws direct and indirect discrimination, victimisation andharassment – Post-employment victimisation prohibited– Expected implementation date1 December 2003Religion and belief– Outlaws discrimination on grounds of religion or belief inemployment and training– Includes direct and indirect discrimination, victimisationand harassment– Expected implementation date 2 December 2003Generally– A new definition of harassment. A claimant will have to show– That their dignity has been violated. or– They have been subjected to an intimidating, hostile,degrading, humiliating, or offensive environment Previous Article Next Article Comments are closed. last_img


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