One of your employees has reported a colleague for discriminatory behaviour, you’ve dealt with it using your grievance procedure and you thought it was all sorted out. But a few of weeks later, the same employee tells you that they are leaving as the colleague they complained about has been ignoring them, spreading gossip behind their back and generally making working life hard. Now you’re picturing the tribunal claim and the pound signs and wondering how you could have handled it differently.

  1. Train your managers – make sure they understand what discrimination and victimisation means and what the Equality Act says about both
  2. Have a clear policy on bullying and harassment and make sure it is communicated to employees
  3. Deal with any grievance promptly and thoroughly, make sure you take appropriate action, including making sure all parties involved know the matter has now been concluded
  4. Be aware that following a grievance process there may be a risk of one party victimising the other, naturally no-one likes to be complained about and they’re going to want to defend themselves. Working with someone who has complained about you can be very uncomfortable. Keep your eyes and ears open for any possible victimisation occurring in the weeks following a complaint
  5. If you do hear yourself, or are made aware that victimisation is going on, deal with it immediately. Talk to the perpetrator and make it clear that their behaviour will not be tolerated. Talk to the person being victimised and let them know you have noticed and are doing your best to resolve the problem
  6. If you cannot bring peace, you may want to consider using a mediator or neutral third party to engage in discussion between both parties, allowing them to air their gripes and reach a mutual conclusion
  7. You may need to consider disciplining the perpetrator (although this is not likely to make them feel any warmer towards their colleague) and you may wish to consider dismissal, or you may need to relocate them to another part of the business where they won’t be in contact with the person they are victimising
  8. Make sure you document everything you have done to resolve the matter, if the worst does happen and you end up facing a tribunal claim, you can show you took steps to correct the situation