11 May 2021

Case Law - Racial harassment – ‘reasonable steps defence’

Although the decision of the EAT in Allay (UK) Limited v Gehlen was handed down in February this year, we’ve recently been looking at it more closely in preparation for the preventing harassment breakfast briefing and wanted to share a gem of a quote from the judgement. 

 The case concerned whether or not Allay could rely on the ‘reasonable steps defence’ when Gehlen brought a claim of racial harassment.  The EAT rejected Allay’s defence because in the 20 months since Gehlen had undergone training on equality matters it had become ‘stale and ineffective’. 

Our favourite quote from the judgment … ”It is not sufficient merely to ask whether there has been training, consideration has to be given to the nature of the training and the extent to which it was likely to be effective. If training involved no more than gathering employees together and saying “here is your harassment training, don’t harass people, now everyone back to work”, it is unlikely to be effective, or to last.” 

A timely reminder of the importance of keeping your policies and procedures fresh and delivering regular, effective equality and diversity training.

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