Worker awarded £27,000 after regularly hearing racist slurs

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diversityA worker has been awarded £27,000 in compensation after a tribunal ruled that having to listen to racist nicknames had ‘violated his dignity’.

Delivery driver, Roy Morgan, became upset after his colleague was given a series of racist nicknames and was routinely referred to as a golliwog.

It was heard that Brian Ennis, who worked for a fruit and vegetable wholesaler in Gloucester, was called ‘golliwog Brian’ and ‘black Brian’, to distinguish him from a white worker with the same first name.

Despite not bringing legal action himself, his colleague, Mr Morgan, stated that he could no longer work within the racist culture and sued the company for constructive dismissal.

Mr Morgan was awarded £13,427 by the Tribunal in 2011 for racial harassment – including £8,000 for injury to feelings and £5,000 aggravated damages.

He was recently awarded a further £14,286 for lost earnings from constructive dismissal, however the panel noted that he is unlikely to receive a penny of the latest award as the firm is now in administration.

During an Employment Tribunal it was heard that the boss of the firm, Amanda Miles, did not put a stop to the nicknames because she did not see anything wrong with it, while it was also claimed that Ms Miles was “entirely unreceptive” to the idea that the nicknames might offend black staff.

Speaking at the Bristol Employment Tribunal, Mr Morgan also claimed that bosses at the firm did not discipline a white driver who said that ‘black people should be burnt at the stake like Jews’.

Following the case, Ms Miles branded the judgment ‘absolutely ridiculous’.

She said:

“Brian Ennis did not have any issues. He is not shy and if he had wanted to bring up the names with me, he would have done. He could hold his own.

“The tribunal was the most pathetic process I have ever come across in my life.”

In delivering its verdict, the panel stated:

“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.”

It continued:

“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.

“At the very least we would have expected Ms Miles to have taken some steps to ensure this was not causing offence to Mr Ennis.”

It concluded:

“Ms Miles was an employer who thought it entirely acceptable to distinguish one employee from another by referring to the colour of the skin of the black employee.

“That Ms Miles had no index of concern about this practice satisfied us further that there was a culture of racism that was tolerated in the workplace.”

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