Interesting outcome in a recent discrimination case – “banter” meant that insults were not viewed as harassment
The employee in question was a sales representative for just under a year when he was dismissed for poor performance. He brought a number of discrimination and victimisation claims – citing disability and race, because his heritage was that he was a traveller. An employment tribunal rejected these claims and found the employer’s reason for dismissal genuine. They could find no evidence that the employer had discriminated.
He also brought an harassment claim on the ground he had been call a “fat ginger pikey” on at least one occasion. Mr Evans was sensitive about his weight which he said was linked to him being diabetic. The tribunal confirmed that the comment was potentially discriminatory and harassing but in its judgment stated that it had considered the context in which the remark was made. The office culture was reportedly one were “good natured jibing and teasing” occured. At the time the comment was made, the employee did not react and was seen to join in the teasing culture. The tribunal therefore concluded the treatment did not meet the harassment definition as stated in the Equality Act 2010.
The claim was taken to the Employment Appeal Tribunal who considered the judgment and agreed that the tribunal was entitled to come to this conclusion, stating that “harassment claims are highly fact sensitive and context specific”.