Dealing with Discrimination: How Should Businesses Handle It?
When handling discrimination cases, businesses must approach them with care; after all, any claim could be serious and failing to take the appropriate steps can lead the business into legal proceedings. We learn more about this when speaking to Chris McAvoy Newns.
What should be the first call of action for businesses, especially start-ups, when they have a discrimination case against them?
Seek advice. Discrimination cases can be complex, time consuming, expensive and reputationally damaging. Obtaining initial advice at the very start will make a big difference to the end result.
How would you advise businesses to deal with complaints about discrimination?
As well as taking advice, check your grievance and/or equal opportunities policies/procedures and ensure you follow the steps set out within them carefully. If you do not have these policies/procedures, you should ask a Solicitor or HR professional to draft them for you. These policies should comply with the relevant ACAS Code of Practice – if they don’t, or you are unsure, you should obtain advice.
In some cases, complaints about discrimination can be resolved informally with a meeting between HR and/or an independent sufficiently senior manager, the aggrieved employee and potentially a companion. In other cases, and more commonly, a formal grievance investigation process should be undertaken.
All complaints of discrimination should be taken seriously and should not be pre-judged, even if you doubt the motives of the employee raising them.
In many cases, the employer may find that there has been no discrimination but may fail to explain that adequately to the aggrieved employee
What goes wrong for the above to eventually proceed to employment tribunal?
Often the aggrieved employee does not feel as though their complaints have been taken seriously and/or the proposed resolution is insufficient.
In many cases, the employer may find that there has been no discrimination but may fail to explain that adequately to the aggrieved employee. This doesn’t give them the closure that they need to move forwards.
In some cases, the employer may find that there has been discrimination but may fail to take appropriate steps to protect the employee from further discrimination.
How do you assist with workplace mediation to resolve such issues?
I am a mediator accredited by the Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution (CEDR). I am also experienced in mediating a range of disputes. I chair workplace mediations which can often be an effective means of resolving these issues. It is more helpful if the mediation take place earlier in the process, before litigation commences and parties become more entrenched.
Chris McAvoy Newns
Solicitor and Founder
People Legal Limited
DD: 0161 240 3470
I am a Solicitor and the Founder of People Legal, which is a boutique Employment Law Firm, based in Alderley Edge, Cheshire. I qualified as a Solicitor in September 2008. People Legal, which is regulated by the Solicitors’ Regulation Authority, was established in February 2019.
People Legal helps small businesses and people by providing them with an exceptional, responsive and affordable Employment Law service. As the Founder, Chris McAvoy Newns, spent the majority of his career working for large national or international law firms, he can provide clients with the quality of Employment Law service that they should expect from those firms, at an affordable price. As he has also worked “in-house” on several occasions, he is experienced in providing pragmatic and commercially focused advice to businesses.
People Legal adopts a more modern approach to legal services. For example, clients can arrange appointments online and their key documents, together with case updates, can be made accessible 24/7 via a secure client portal. They arrange free initial consultations and prices thereafter are generally based on fixed fees.
They have experience of working in a broad range of sectors including aviation, transport, energy, retail, financial services, recruitment, pharmaceutical, beauty, education and sport. Their work includes bringing and defending complex and high value claims for discrimination and whistleblowing, as well as unfair dismissal.