A few years ago a client had a team who came to work after an IRA bombing.
Naturally conversation over coffee break turned to the incident. Many people were very upset and voiced strong opinions. Some staff voiced their opinion that all Irish people were terrorists. The boss agreed and everyone returned to work.
The one Irish member of staff was extremely upset by this and felt accused of being a terrorist and a murderer. They took their employer to an employment tribunal claiming race discrimination. They won.
Yesterday’s shocking attack on a young man in Woolwich has shocked and angered many people. The twitter stream and facebook are alive with people expressing their shock and their opinions on who did this and why.
Some people are expressing their views about ‘all Muslims……’.
Whilst there is a time and a place for legitimate debate on the differences between religion, fundamentalism and politically inspired terrorism the workplace is not the best place for most of this debate.
If you are the boss, today would be a good day to talk to your team and briefly remind them that blaming all Muslims for the acts of some is likely to cause great distress to Muslims in your workforce (and those associated with them) and is likely to be an act of religious discrimination.
It is also a good idea to remind your team not to share videos, emails, tweets etc at work that blame all Muslims for this act.
Check your equality policy, social media policy, and internet policy if you have them.
Our thoughts go out to the family and relatives of the young man whose life was so brutally ended and to anyone in the world who has lost someone due to violence (whatever the reason).