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Holocaust Day provides opportunity for employers - 27-01-2012
Today, Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD) is says the Trades Union Congress (TUC) an opportunity to end discrimination.

HMD is held on the 27 January each year - on the anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz-Birkenau, where 1.6 million men, women and children were killed in the Holocaust. The day aims to raise awareness of the crimes, racism and loss of life during the Holocaust in World War II and prevent it ever being forgotten or repeated. It also remembers more recent genocides in Cambodia, Bosnia, Rwanda and Darfur, and has been held annually in the UK since 2001.

Often assumed to be an atrocity that exclusively led to the murder of six million Jewish people, hundreds of other people from other minority groups and political organisations were also subject to Nazi persecution. These groups included trade union members, lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans sexual people (LGBT), disabled people, and people attacked simply for their race.

TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber has said that trade unions have always stood up to the kind of discrimination, prejudice and hatred that led to the Nazi Holocaust. LGBT people are he said a vital part of the resistance to modern versions of this hatred."

Of course today none of us would consciously discriminate against or in favour of another person just because of a protected characteristic. But it is still important for that employers are absolutely sure that all employees are trained in and follow their grievance and equality policies consistently and treat any employees who complain with the utmost fairness.

Claims of discrimination are too frequent and increasing, employers are fool hardy to assume that their organisation is free from discrimination says Michael Millward, Managing Director of Abeceder.

Recent cases have included a claim of 'institutionalised racism' made by a former NHS managerís trade union representative during his employment tribunal hearing for race discrimination and unfair dismissal against the Central Manchester University Foundation NHS Trust.

The manager was awarded almost £1m in compensation. This case followed one in December 2010 where a former employee of Mid Yorkshire NHS Trust was awarded £4.5m for ďan extensive processĒ of race and sex discrimination.

In both cases, the employees claimed that they were pilloried by their employers for bringing formal grievances. Michael Slade Managing Director of Biddy Consulting said this highlighted the need for employers to make sure they applied their grievance and equality policies properly and treated their employees fairly rather than making life difficult for them if they complained.

Mr Millward reminds employers as he mentioned during one of his BBC Radio York broadcasts on employment issues that employers need to know that there is no maximum award in discrimination cases and therefore breach of discrimination legislation could cost them a lot of money like the Mid Yorkshire NHS Trust. Make no mistake losing a discrimination claim could mean losing your business.

The term 'institutionalised racism' can sound like a serious allegation, as if an organisation is deliberately discriminating against certain employees.

Claimants only have to feel they have been discriminated against because their employers have failed to put robust equality policies in place.

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