A “lazy old white guy” has won a huge pay out
The 55-year-old claimant was found to be the victim of age and racial discrimination as a result of comments made by a Black colleague.
An employment tribunal held that such comments could “only have been a term of abuse”. The pair had previously been on “good terms” and had worked together for several years, but it was unclear when or why their good relationship broke down.
The claimant raised a discrimination case claiming his colleague was “winding him up constantly and he could not work with him”. It was also alleged that the said colleague told his manager he “enjoyed taunting’’ the claimant.
At the tribunal, the employer had maintained that any comments along these lines were “just banter” but the employment panel determined the language used amounted to harassment.
The tribunal judge stated that “Although it is possible that two men in a robust working environment might use abusive language to each other without any bad feeling, there is a risk that it tips over into aggression – We conclude that that is what happened here.”
The court awarded the complainant substantial compensation of £22,000.
However, while this case highlights discrimination towards a white employee, statistics indicate that the issue is far more prevalent among ethnic minorities.
Under UK Equalities legislation, a company is liable for the behaviour of its staff towards one another, with the result that both the harasser and the employer can be held responsible, with the potential for large awards. Even if the complaints are subsequently found to be groundless, a failure to investigate itself could lead to an adverse finding of discrimination, or indeed victimisation if the complainer is subjected to a later detriment by the employer or co-workers.
When faced with allegations of discrimination or harassment, an employer should conduct a thorough investigation and take appropriate remedial action to address any concerns uncovered.
121 HR Solutions can assist in the training of managers in areas of Equality in the Workplace simply contact us and we will be happy to discuss.