Collating some of the most offensive things overheard in the workplace in an anonymous survey, London-based employment law specialists Thomas Mansfield is warning workers of the dangers of making offensive comments.
Some of the most offensive (and common) comments highlighted by Thomas Mansfield are:
“You can’t contribute, you’re only 20”“Bisexuals are just greedy”“If she’s pregnant she doesn’t want a career”“In many respects, women are people too”“The French are always on strike”“Why is he so angry? Must be ginger rage!”“She’s tiny, she’s the perfect height for a…(I'll let you fill in the blank)”“Eat your lettuce and shut up!”“She’s only here because she’s rich and she knows somebody”
Thomas Mansfield says that zero-tolerance should be enforced in any office because when people feel discriminated against they could potentially sue the employer for letting this happen.
In the UK there are a list of protected categories which cover characteristics such as age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation.
The employment law firm said: "So to see many of these broken on a day to day basis is unbelievable in an evolved office environment."
Meredith Hurst, partner at Thomas Mansfield, said: “Offence of any kind in the workplace, can create a toxic and unpleasant environment, affecting staff morale and productivity. In our experience, complaints of bullying appear to be on the increase. Employers who fail actively to deal with the perpetrators of bullying, and the underlying causes of conflict, will undoubtedly experience high staff turnover. The obligation to provide a safe and stress-free working environment may amount to an implied term of the employment contract. In extreme cases, a victim of offence in the workplace may have grounds to bring a constructive dismissal claim.
“Employers should focus on encouraging an inclusive workforce, regular and effective staff and management training, as well as a consistent and reasonable approach to disciplinary action. Ultimately harmonious staff relationships are reflected in a company’s bottom line and the value of tolerance should not be underestimated.”