A transgender man was recently awarded €5,000 compensation from a barber who refused to cut his hair. The discrimination claim was brought to tribunal by Lee McLoughlin, who was said to have felt hugely embarrassed and distressed by the incident.
The barber in question stated he had not intended to cause any offence to Mr McLoughlin. He believed he was fulfilling his duties as he had not been trained to cut ladies hair and had mistakenly thought McLoughlin was a woman. His actions were defended as a one-off mistake and not discrimination.
The Workplace Relations Commission ruled in favour of Mr McLoughlin. So that “one-off mistake” ended up costing the employer a fair bit in compensation.
This unfortunate and costly case of mistaken identity could have been avoided with some employee training.
If your employees deal directly with your customers, you will want to ensure that they are not only offering excellent customer service but are also trained when it comes to discrimination in the provision of goods and services.
Regular training can protect you, your customers, your employees and your business.
What can employers do to ensure their employees are informed on equality?
Brush up on your knowledge
For you to understand how your employees should conduct themselves around your customers, you will also want to be well-informed on protected characteristics and discrimination in the provision of goods and services.
The Equality Act 2004 is publicly available. But if you have any questions speak to your HR Dept professional.
Set a great example
The way in which you behave at work, and particularly towards your employees, will set a standard for your team. If your employees feel that they are treated fairly, they are more likely to respect you and your business.
In earning your employees’ respect, you are also setting an example of how you expect them to treat your customers. It’s worth remembering that sounding off about a difficult customer in front of your employees could give them the impression that this is acceptable behaviour.
Create a fair environment for your employees and demonstrate how this attitude should also form part of the customer service that your business provides.
Leave no room for assumptions
Whilst setting a good example will encourage fair behaviour and positive morale, it won’t necessarily stand up in court. So to cover yourself and your employees, you may wish to explore equality training. In the training you can not only discuss how you expect your employees to behave towards your customers, but also towards each other.
As an employer you can be held legally responsible for the actions of your employees at work. Speak to your local HR Dept professional today to set up training and protect your reputation.