We want to run a poster campaign in our public areas, wishing customers a 'Happy Hanukkah' etc. But given the current political environment there is a risk that posters could be defaced with discriminatory comments, which could cause racial tensions and potential damage to our brand. What should we do?
In times of heightened tensions between political/religious factions an employer needs to exercise particular care and undertaking a light touch risk assessment might be helpful..
It is possible that a tribunal might determine that the defacing of posters with graffiti constitutes harassment on grounds of religion or belief. Even if the perpetrators cannot be identified an employer will remain vicariously liable for the actions of employees and must be able to show that reasonable steps had been taken to prevent the discriminatory acts.
Tribunals have been persuaded this is the case where employers have been able to show they did not just pay lip service to equality policies, but pursued these actively. This might mean, for example:
providing each new employee with a copy of the employer's equal opportunities policy
issuing a statement on harassment and bullying
implementing campaigns against bullying and harassment and introducing a helpline
targeting the problem in learning sessions conducted in working hours
operating a zero tolerance policy, making clear to all employees what constitutes harassment and the serious consequences for anyone found culpable of harassment.