Policies & Procedures

Handling Discrimination Investigations

Meet Ali, an ambitious HR manager in a perfectly ordinary organisation. They are admired by colleagues for their dedication to diversity and inclusivity and are eager to advance their career to a senior level. But like many HR professionals at some point during their career, Ali is navigating the complex landscape of discrimination claims. This article follows Ali’s journey in dealing with a race discrimination claim and the steps taken to ensure a fair, thorough investigation.

One day, Ali receives a complaint alleging racial discrimination within the company. The claimant, a valued employee named David, feels he’s been passed over for promotions due to his race. Ali knows the gravity of these claims and understands that they must be handled delicately and efficiently.

Realising the need for subjectivity in this process, Ali decides to bring in a professional external investigator to ensure a fair and unbiased investigation.

Engaging an external investigator offers multiple benefits. Firstly, it demonstrates the company’s commitment to establishing the facts and addressing the issue impartially. Secondly, it offers reassurance for all involved that the investigation is being conducted by a professional who is experienced in dealing with such matters and understands the nuances of the Equality Act 2010. Lastly, an external investigator can make recommendations to prevent similar situations in the future, reinforcing the company’s dedication to a diverse and inclusive workplace.

Ali also understands the importance of timely action. Race discrimination employment tribunal claims must be made within six months less one day from when the alleged discrimination occurred.

In the 2021/2022 period, there were 200 discrimination cases in which compensation was awarded, with the maximum award reaching a staggering £228,117 in a race discrimination case​. These figures highlight the potential financial implications of a successful claim.

Over the course of the investigation, Ali keeps David informed about the process and assures him of the company’s commitment to a fair investigation.

When the investigation concludes, Ali implements the investigator’s recommendations and takes proactive steps to further foster an inclusive workplace. This includes organising diversity and inclusion training sessions, reinforcing the company’s anti-discrimination policies, and taking steps to ensure transparent, merit-based promotion practices.

Ali’s story provides a practical, relatable guide for HR leaders like you, demonstrating the benefits of external investigations. By understanding these aspects, you too can navigate such challenges with confidence and contribute to building a fair and inclusive workplace.