Are your staff clear on how to deal with incidents of racism among clients or within the workplace?

23 October 2018

A company's reputation could receive untold damage if it allows alleged incidents of discrimination to go unchecked, a regional expert on employment law has warned.

Tom Martin, an employment specialist at Wilkin Chapman solicitors was commenting after shocking footage of racist behaviour on a Ryanair flight was posted on social media.

The video, which has gone viral in the last 24-hours, shows a man hurling dreadful verbal abuse at a fellow passenger. While clearly the crew on board could do little about what the abusive passenger was saying, the airline has come in for criticism about the way its staff handled the incident.

Although Ryanair has now reported the incident to police, it appears that the perpetrator was not removed from the flight, but instead the female who was being abused so badly was found another seat. Shadow Transport Minister, East Hull MP Karl Turner is reported to have accused the airline of ‘failing spectacularly’.

Tom said that while all companies should have policies in place for staff which provide guidance on dealing with such issues, this case highlights the importance of staff, especially those who are customer-facing, having the correct training and confidence to be able to deal with such difficult situations.

“For companies that deal with large numbers of service users, it is vital that thorough and clear policies are put in place and communicated to staff. It is also important that these policies go further than just repeating the broad principles of the Equality Act” said Tom.

“The employees must also be equipped with the support and training to ensure they are aware of issues involving acts of discrimination, and know how best to approach dealing with them. Companies must be mindful of the damage to their reputations that can come from such incidents being mishandled, and that can be enormous”, he added.

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