Did you know that non–verbal communication, could be deemed discriminatory and actionable under the Equality Act 2010?
Meaning that customers or clients can take your Company to court for the actions of an employee?
Southend County Court heard how a customer took a small family run business to court in October this year, after business between them went sour due to an unresolved refund of £40.
The customer claimed that while on the premises, the son of the business owner, had made numerous homophobic gestures towards him ranging from winking and blowing kisses towards him to the more vulgar sort.
Some of these instances were while the son was standing outside the premises, at a time he wasn’t physically working within the shop.
The customer claimed to be seriously upset by these homophobic behaviours towards his sexual orientation and subsequently issued a discrimination and harassment claims under the Equality Act 2010. That’s right, this legislation prevents any business that supplies goods and/or services from discriminating against customers due to protected characteristics such as sexual orientation.
The judge ruled that the distress the gestures caused the customer was not minor and awarded the customer £7,500.
It is believed that this is the first time a business has been ordered to pay damages for discriminatory behaviour that was entirely non-verbal – but be warned it does happen. The court ruling indicates that the Act certainly covers discriminatory gestures in addition to words.
So, what’s my point?
1) You can be held legally responsible for an employee’s discriminatory behaviour towards a customer/client;
2) Even if employees are outside the premises, they are still considered to be acting in the course of their employment, then yes again you are responsible for their actions.
Therefore, as an employer you should make all offensive, abusive and aggressive behaviour a gross misconduct offence, and you can take disciplinary action over unacceptable behaviour that occurs away from your premises if employees are working or doing something which is connected to work.
Protect yourself and your business.
For any help regarding disciplinary procedures please do not hesitate to contact Ella on 01909 512 120 or email@example.com