A significant increase in racially-aggravated crime and
workplace incidents in the UK following the Brexit vote should
remind local employers of their responsibilities under the
Discrimination Law, says Ogier employment lawyer Michael
It was reported by the National Police Chiefs' Council in
the UK that reports of hate crime rose 57 per cent in the weeks
immediately after June's Brexit vote.
Although Jersey hasn't seen the same kind of behaviour on
the same scale, it is a timely reminder for employers and employees
to be mindful of the damage that office banter and harassment can
do not only to the work environment, but also to their firms.
The Jersey Employment and Discrimination Tribunal has the power
to make awards of up to £10,000 in discrimination-related
cases, with awards for hurt and distress not exceeding £5,000
payable if applicable, by the employee themselves.
One of the high risk areas for employers is "office
banter" where what some staff perceive as harmless workplace
chatter can cause genuine distress, and an action before the
Where one employee engages in unwanted conduct to another that
either violates that person's dignity or creates an
"intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive
environment", the law defines the conduct as harassment.
Michael Little, Head of Ogier's Channel Islands employment
practice, said: "This is something that employers must be
"Quite aside from employers' interests in maintaining a
healthy and positive workplace environment in which staff feel
valued and comfortable, the financial and reputational impact of a
claim before the tribunal should not be underestimated."
The development of Jersey's discrimination legislation
continues – from the start of next month, age will become a
"protected characteristic" under the law. The key element
to the new law is about retirement – initially, the
regulations will continue to allow an employer to require an
employee to retire at pensionable age. As of September 2018,
however, employers will have to justify the need for employees of
any age to retire.
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