Appointments: MD Is Now in Jail for 18 Months over Racial Abuse; Just the Job

The Birmingham Post (England), September 27, 2003 | Go to article overview

Appointments: MD Is Now in Jail for 18 Months over Racial Abuse; Just the Job


Byline: Fergal Dowling

Employers across the country have been given a wake-up call this month following a landmark race discrimination ruling at Sheffield Crown Court. A managing director was sentenced to jail for 18 months after he 'turned a blind eye' to a sickening campaign of racial abuse in the workplace that left one of hisblack employees a 'psychological cripple'.

Despite the court being told that the employer was a very decent hard-working family man whose wife was expecting their first child imminently, it is clear that the Judge felt that this was no mitigation for non-action against racism.

By sentencing the defendant to prison, the Judge significantly extended the duty of care of directors in the workplace. As a result, directors should no longer feel protected by the corporate veil, they are now highly vulnerable for the actions of their workforce.

It is imperative that employers consider how they should protect their employees from bullying and harassment at work. One of the first steps to take is to develop and frame a formal policy.

This need not be overelaborate, especially for smaller firms, and it might be included in other personnel policies. It would be advisable to cover off the following areas within the text of the document: A statement of commitment from senior management

Acknowledgement that bullying and harassment could be problems for the organisation and will not be tolerated

Examples of unacceptable behaviour which may be treated as disciplinary offences

The steps the organisation takes to prevent such behaviour

The responsibilities of supervisors and managers

An assurance of confidentiality for any complainant

An outline of the grievance procedure, how complaints will be investigated, timescales and disciplinary procedures

Counselling and support availability

Training for managers

Protection from victimisation Employers should also include how the policy is to be implemented, reviewed and monitored. …

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