When it comes to employment law and HR issues, it is certainly true that some circumstances are more serious than others. It is advised that any allegations of employee misconduct that relates to a protected characteristic is dealt with immediately.

Racism is described as: The belief that race accounts for differences in human character or ability and that a particular race is superior to others.” Secondly, racism is, “Discrimination or prejudice based on race’.

For information, there are nine areas that are referred to as protected characteristics in employment law which includes any reference to age, sex, disability, race, gender (including reassignment), religion (belief or lack of), sexual orientation, marriage or civil partnership, pregnancy.

Before we discuss the legal implications of racism in the workplace, it is important to stress how much of a sensitive and serious allegation that this is which can have serious effects on staff and the business in general, including potential financial implications.

Investigating Racism Allegations

Any racism allegation brought to your organisation’s attention must be actioned immediately. Not only for the obvious moral reasons but also because race hate incidents, whether as an act of violence or hostility against people because of their race are illegal in criminal law.

Allegations must be thoroughly investigated and witness statement should be sought from staff, volunteers or customers who may have information. You may even wish to consider suspending the accused member of staff pending investigation and then document the reasons for the suspension, i.e. that they are a danger to the business or other employees and customers.

You should then set out the details of the allegations to the employee and advise them that they are expected to attend a disciplinary. In this letter, you should also state all the possible outcomes, including first written warning, final written warning or dismissal. They should advise of the right to be accompanied to the meeting by an employee or trade union rep.

The panel should discuss the evidence presented, take the appropriate course of action, and communicate those actions to the affected employees in due course.

Prompt and Thorough Action is Critical

As with any other examples of workplace misconduct, allegations of racism must be addressed immediately, professionally and lawfully. It is important to thoroughly investigate and take the appropriate course of action if the allegations are proven. Following this simple and proper process will ensure that your organisation upholds the integrity of its staff and will eradicate this attitude successfully.