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Tempted to ask an employee about his sexual orientation? Don't! You could end up in the Equality Court!

by , 22 March 2013
Allan Gray usually makes headlines for its unit trust performance. Now, the firm's been accused of sexual discrimination for refusing to honour a court order. It's surprisingly easy to be accused of similar unfair discrimination in your workplace - here's how to make sure you prevent unfair discrimination based on an employee's sexual orientation.

The Allan Gray Retirement Annuity Fund has made headlines this morning – not for its sound retirement advice, but for ignoring a court order from December to transfer money from the pension fund of one of its clients to his homosexual former partner, says Fin24.
'The fund is discriminating against our client on the basis of his sexual orientation. Such discrimination is unlawful and infringes upon our client's rights to equality,' attorney Carien van Greunen said in the Fin24 article.
Don't get taken to the Equality Court for a case of unfair discrimination based on an employee's sexual orientation!
Your company could get into trouble for discriminating against employees for their sexual orientation, too.
Because sexual orientation is one of 20 areas of discrimination the Department of Labour says you need to prevent in the workplace.
In fact, up to 43% of gay people report that they've experienced some form of unfair discrimination and harassment at the workplace based on their sexual orientation, says AmericanProgress.
The discrimination ranges from being passed over for a promotion to being verbally and physically harassed by colleagues.
And even if an employee makes a discriminatory statement, you're the one who'll have to face the Equality Court.
That's why you need to prevent any claims of discrimination for sexual orientation in the workplace.
Prevent discrimination based on sexual orientation in the workplace by clarifying it in your code of conduct!
The easiest way to prevent unfair discrimination in the workplace is to make sure you've clearly explained the behaviours that count as unfair discrimination in your company's code of conduct
'Your code of conduct must focus on professional standards of behaviour you expect form your employees in your business,' writes employment expert Lizle Louw in The Labour Law for Managers Loose Leaf Service.
Then make sure each employee reads through the code of conduct to ensure everyone is up-to-date on the topic. 
It could be the case that your employees simply don't realise they're using discriminatory language or bringing up sensitive topics.
Making sure they know what not to say could help you stay out of the Equality Court.

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