A worker has won a claim for racial harassment in the Employment Tribunal after both he and other workers were subjected at work to what the Tribunal described as “unacceptable” nicknames and comments.
Mr Roy Morgan brought a claim for racial discrimination and racial harassment last year against his employer, Halls of Gloucester, after both he and other employees were subjected to a “tolerated culture of racism” at the fruit and vegetable wholesaler.
Mr Ennis, a delivery driver, was angered after staff at the wholesaler gave another driver (Mr Brian Ennis) the nickname “Black Brian” and “Golliwog Brian” to distinguish him from another driver of the same name. He quit his job last year after he had a verbal altercation with Ms Miles, his boss, at work over the fact that Mr Morgan had brought a copy of a health and safety book to work with him. The Tribunal found that when he gave the book to her she “threw it back at him” and pushed him out of the office, leading him to submit his letter of resignation. He also later submitted an Employment Tribunal claim for racial harassment and constructive dismissal.
The matter came before the Employment Tribunal earlier this year. The Employment Tribunal found that the claimant “worked for an employer that tolerated not only racial banter in the workplace but also the expression of extreme forms of racial prejudice. ‘The claimant found this comment to be offensive and was concerned that no steps appeared to be taken to address it. This was known about by Ms Miles. It did not occur to her to take any steps to curb this practice as it did not occur to her that there could be anything wrong with it. Ms Miles was entirely unreceptive to the notion that calling someone by the colour of their skin could cause offence. She had given no thought to finding another way of distinguishing the two Brians that did not involve labelling one of them by the colour of their skin. She had had no training in the principles of equal opportunity and appeared to have an entirely closed mind to what those principles might entail.”
The Tribunal awarded Mr Morgan compensation of approximately £27,000 in total, with £13,427 composed of damages for racial harassment and £14,286 for lost earnings.
Chris Hadrill, an employment law solicitor at Redmans, commented: “Employers must be extremely careful to ensure that allegations of racism – or any form of discriminatory conduct – in the workplace is investigated and that appropriate measures are taken on the back of those investigations. If they fail to do so then the employer could face a costly – and potentially well-publicised, as in this case – Employment Tribunal claim.”
However, although Mr Morgan has succeeded in his claim for harassment in the Employment Tribunal it remains to be seen whether he will be able to recoup any of the sums that are currently outstanding as Halls of Gloucester has, according to reports, gone into administration.