Prior to instructing an employment law professional to assist in a race-based harassment claim, there are a few alternative steps. First, notify the harasser in the presence of your or their supervisor that their behaviour is undesirable and unlawful. When the harassment continues, raise a grievance with either the trade union or the employer.
It is the employer’s responsibility to ensure a safe working environment, so it is best to start with your employer as they may not be aware of the situation and you should give them the opportunity to fix the problem.
If an appearance before the Employment Tribunal becomes necessary, you will want to have as much physical evidence as possible to show that you were harassed. Therefore, you should start a journal or log of the events with pertinent information, such as dates and times, witnesses, and actions you took to alleviate the situation, providing as much details as possible.
If conditions are unacceptable or unbearable, you may consider resigning, if that is your only alternative which is known as constructive dismissal being effectively an unfair dismissal. When that occurs, you should instruct a qualified employment law solicitor. Your solicitor can negotiate a compromise with the employer or financial settlement. When negotiations fail, your solicitor can assist you in making an application to the Employment Tribunal, or Industrial Tribunal in Northern Ireland.
Racial Harassment, what is it?
Harassment based on race, colour, ethnic background or country of origin is a form of racial discrimination. Offensive behaviour by management, superiors or co-workers, unfavourable treatment at work or in work related activities based on race is harassment. Normally, this is not a one-time occurrence, but a series of events, though a grave single event could be considered harassment; however, legislation is not clear on what constitutes harassment, but courts have ruled that it must have occurred on more than one occasion and the offense must be of such a nature that criminal sanctions could be applied. However whilst that definition mostly fits Civil Court claims, it can be used in employment law as well.
Several statutes provide protection from racial harassment in the workplace. Harassment can range in severity from slanderous comments about one’s work performance to physical attacks. To have a successful racial harassment claim, the individual being harassed should take the steps listed above and log specific incidents of harassment.
The perception of prejudice alone is not grounds to raise a grievance. Prejudice is the way a person thinks. It is when a person acts on those prejudices that it becomes discrimination or harassment.
Racial HarassmentStatutes and References
Currently, there is no specific piece of legislation that is a one-stop reference for racial harassment. However, there are several Acts a solicitor can use as reference while negotiating a compromise or settlement, either with the employer or at a tribunal, these Acts are:
- Race Relations Act 1976
- Protection from Harassment Act 1996
- Criminal Justice & Public Order Act 1994
- The Racial and Religious Hatred Act 2006
Some of the legislation may seem as if it covers the same material, but some became necessary to distinguish between acts of discrimination/harassment and acts of hatred.
Harassment can come in many forms, such as:
- physical attacks
- name calling
- racial comments
- displaying racist materials
- racist remarks on social media
An isolated incident may be harmless, but seldom are these acts isolated, they start to make the harasser feel superior and if allowed, will continue. Take the steps to correct the situation immediately.
Compensation: An Employer’s Responsibility
The responsibility of maintaining a safe working environment ultimately resides with the employer. They may employ others to ensure compliance with statutory requirements but paying compensation for damages is the employer’s responsibility. Often there are questions when incidents occur outside the workplace or work-related activities outside the workplace and even at the pub after work are in most cases considered part of an employer’s responsibility.
If an employer knew about an incident of harassment at a pub after work and did not investigate, a second occurrence could make him fully responsible, even though a one-time occurrence of a grave nature could be their responsibility as well. Although there may be questions, in most cases the facts will determine the responsibility. The safest course for the employer is to investigate every grievance, no matter how insignificant it seems.
Normally, when the harasser knows their conduct will not be tolerated, it will stop. Immediate action to prevent further occurrence of harassment is paramount. If everyone responds appropriately, we could eliminate harassment in the workplace. For More Information Visit: Employment Claim Solicitors