Careless nickname cost £60k

An NHS employee has been awarded almost £60,000 after her colleagues gave her an offensive nickname detailed on a work spreadsheet. An employment tribunal heard that the employee was dubbed ‘pain in arse’ on an internal spreadsheet which was accessible across two hospitals.

The hearing found that when the employee complained about the offensive nickname, no action was taken to remove it. The employee cited several acts of racial discrimination that had occurred over a two-year period where she had been “marginalised and excluded because of her race”. The tribunal heard details of several incidents in which the employee alleged to have been treated inappropriately.

The tribunal was satisfied that the original insertion of the term ‘pain in arse’ into the documents was innocent. However, it considered that the position was different in relation to the failure to remove it from documents. The Judge concluded that this crossed the threshold into harassment and had the effect of creating an offensive, humiliating, environment, given these documents were visible to colleagues.

The employer suggested that the treatment was because the employee was considered a “troublemaker” due to having made previous health and safety disclosures. However, on several occasions, the tribunal said, her manager’s behaviour had been “materially influenced by race”.

The employee was awarded £58,632 in compensation.

Employers are reminded of their duty and responsibilities to ensure that they are providing a respectful and inclusive environment for employees to minimise the risk of such claims being raised against them or their managers. Contact us at and we can discuss and further queries you may have on this subject.

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