26 January 2011 #Employment
Andy Gray`s sacking by Sky has divided the nation, and not into those that know the off-side rule and those that don`t! His comments about the female assistant referee`s skills being limited because of her gender, which led to Sky deciding to dismiss him on the grounds that such sexist behaviour was completely unacceptable, has divided the nation into those that believe the punishment fitted the crime and those that see it as a complete over-reaction to a bit of banter.
Interestingly the lady against whom the comments were made has made no complaint and appears to be of tough enough character to let it all wash over her head. A measured reaction that could also have been taken by Sky? Or was Sky right to adopt a "zero tolerance" approach to the "lads culture" and impose the harshest of punishments on its employee?
Employers can adopt a zero tolerance approach to such matters relating to discrimination, harassment or misconduct at work, even where there is no obvious complainant (as in Andy Gray`s case) provided the rule has been clearly communicated to all employees and the employer takes a consistent approach to punishing those who fail to follow the rule. And if an employer decides to give a warning (which was Sky`s initial reaction to the first footage which came to light), it has to give the employee the chance to act on the warning, in other words, a chance to improve. A dismissal within days of an initial warning would have to be based on new evidence coming to light, of which the employer could not reasonably have known about at the time of the initial warning. Most companies nowadays realise that the risk of not taking action to prevent discriminatory behaviour in the workplace is too great, but this has to be measured against the risk of claims by those who feel that they have been measured too harshly against the company`s own standards.