Contractor receives undisclosed settlement after racist comments

A former contractor engaged by HM Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS) has received an undisclosed financial settlement following allegations of racial discrimination. The contractor was subjected to multiple incidents of racial discrimination and harassment by another contractor which included the person making monkey chants towards the employee while he was talking to colleagues.

He reported the racist behaviour to managers but, following what the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has described as a flawed investigation, the perpetrator was allowed to return to continue to work as a contractor leaving the victim feeling that he had no choice but to resign.

This complaint focused on the liability of employers to protect workers employed through third parties from harassment by other workers also employed through third parties and is on the face of it complex as neither the victim nor the perpetrator were employees.  It is a reminder, however, that businesses may be liable for the conduct of anyone who is engaged by them, to provide services.  This includes ensuring that a zero-tolerance approach is taken to discrimination and to protecting all workers, contractors and employees from misconduct arising out of discriminatory behaviour!

The victim received compensation, but the settlement does not include an admission of liability or commitment from HMPPS to review its policy around how contractors are treated.

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