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Football and banter go hand in hand, and the Lionesses brilliant win in last night’s European Championship final is no exception.

In the 56 years since England last won a major football championship, times have changed in terms of what is and isn’t acceptable workplace behaviour – but employers should still watch out for any football related discussions that could cause offense to employees.   

Danielle Oakley, Associate Director of HR Advice and Consultancy at Peninsula, says it’s important to remember that what is just a joke to some people could cause great offense to others.

“The Lionesses win paves the way for a generation of girls and is an incredible achievement that should unite the country. Euro 2022 has been a brilliant tournament showcasing the very best of football and supporters from across Europe.

“Social media lit up with celebration after the final whistle blew, but there was also a darker side. It didn’t take long for many to start comparing this success to the men’s team’s continued performance and, sadly, sexist comments started appearing. These included the England team badge depicting three irons in place of three lions and various comments being made around Chloe Kelly’s winning goal celebration.

“In the workplace, it’s important to remember that there is a fine line between where a joke ends, and harassment starts. Employers need to be conscious of inappropriate remarks being utilised in the workplace and ensure that any “banter” or “jokes” do not create an uncomfortable or offensive environment for any staff member.

“What one employee understands as banter can easily be considered as bullying or harassment, even if it is not intended that way.

“Having clear policies and having a zero-tolerance communication on workplace bullying, harassment and discrimination can help protect organisations against claims, as can regular staff training and a culture more focused on professionalism.

“Ultimately, any sexist or misogynistic conduct will likely be unfair and could lead to discrimination or constructive dismissal claims being raised.”

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