Employee awarded over £3000 for having an accent

The Workplace Relations Commission (WRC), the state agency that enforces the employment rights and equality legislation in Ireland has recently awarded a claimant the equivalent of £3,000. He claimed that shortly after his employment commenced, he started to experience belittling and disparaging comments from other workers and claims he was discriminated against on the grounds of race after colleagues consistently made fun of his English accent, called him names, and even nicknamed him “the Protestant.” He stated that this mocking also included his colleagues placing signs on walls. Despite raising a grievance with his line manager, the matter was not properly addressed, and he was instead told “not to take offence.”

Despite attempts to explain to co-workers that he was an Irish national, and his English accent was because of his upbringing, he stated to the WRC that he felt his national identity was being denied and that another identity was being imposed on him by co-workers.

It was ruled that he had been treated less favourably than his co-workers due to his race as colleagues attempted to “strip him of his identity”. It was also ruled that the employer had failed in their duty to properly address the issue once reported.

He was awarded €3,500 (£3053) in compensation. 

Notwithstanding that this case was heard via the WRC for Ireland, it still highlights that grievances must be taken seriously and addressed appropriately. One of the reasons for having grievance procedures is to resolve issues of concern without the need of a costly employment tribunal.

At 121 HR Solutions we regularly discuss with client the importance that any employees involved in managing disciplinary and grievance matters should be trained in the policies and procedures and know how to implement them confidently.

The next workshop we are hosting on the topic of Managing Disciplinary & Grievance will be in Montrose on 28th November 2023 and in Glasgow 31stJanuary 2023. If you would like more information or have any concerns about the subject, contact us at enquiries@121hrsolutions.co.uk and we can discuss.

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