An employee of the Priory Group, a mental healthcare provider, has had his conviction of causing racially aggravated harassment, alarm or distress quashed following an appeal hearing in the Cardiff Crown Court on the 30th May. The incident took place at a Christmas party last December where he dressed as a black and white face painted minstrel (a medieval singer or musician) while performing a “racist” song and dance routine directed at head chef Loretta Doyley, who later reported it to her line manager and HR.

The Court found that Mr Davies’ actions were a “grotesque lapse of taste”, but did not find that he had intended for his behaviour to be threatening or abusive. It concluded that his intention was to “entertain and not cause upset”.

What this case highlights is that it can be difficult to ensure that employees understand the boundaries in a workplace and what is considered to be offensive. Though there was no conviction in this case, it is still clear that setting such boundaries is crucial to maintain healthy relationships between employees and prevent litigation. Ensuring that discrimination is prevented is vital to ensure staff feeling comfortable in their working environment.

Educating employees and allowing them to recognise, accept and appreciate diversity is something all businesses should strive to do. Only 4 in every 10 employees in the UK believe their leaders are setting and communicating Diversity and Inclusion (“D&I”) goals and even fewer believe that their organisation effectively retains diverse talent.

Another key aspect of D&I is that diversity in the workplace is not just about being fair and giving equal opportunity. Studies have shown that diversity can lead to increased productivity and economic benefits. Diversity can increase morale, a variety of cultural thought processes and a diverse set of skills, so it is obvious how it could benefit an organisation.

A key failure of many D&I initiatives is not engaging those who may not feel diverse themselves. Focusing exclusively on workers within a minority group for example, will result in a significant proportion of the workforce being unaware of the organisation’s efforts.

Some key steps that could be taken to build on what has been covered above would include: raising awareness through events and activities, ensuring that relevant staff are trained on it and filter the company’s intentions to work on it to employees in the team.

Lewis Silkin LLP offers a number of relevant courses through our Worksphere service, including a Diversity Training course for HR. To find out more information, please contact Yoko Nakada on yoko.nakada@lewissilkin.com. You can also visit https://www.lewissilkin.com/en/eir/services/hr-services/employment-law-training, and take a look at our training services brochure.
For further information, please contact Koichiro Nakada – Head of Japan Business Group (koichiro.nakada@lewissilkin.com) and Yoko Nakada - Senior Associate, Deputy Head of Japan Business Group (yoko.nakada@lewissilkin.com).
Disclaimer
The information and any commentary on the law contained in this bulletin is provided free of charge for information purposes only. No responsibility for its accuracy and correctness, or for any consequences of relying on it, is assumed by Lewis Silkin LLP or Centre People Appointments. The information and commentary does not, and is not intended to, amount to legal advice and is not intended to be relied upon. You are strongly advised to obtain specific, personal advice from a lawyer about your case or matter and not rely on the information or comments in this bulletin.

This information is supplied by Lewis Silkin LLP www.lewissilkin.comm

Article top