man pointing at woman

A worker has been awarded £27k after regularly hearing racist slurs against a colleague.

A recent Employment Tribunal Case of Morgan V Halls and Gloucester serves as a reminder of how costly and widespread discrimination and harassment can be.

Mr Morgan was a delivery driver for a Halls and Gloucester who were a fruit and vegetable wholesaler. Mr Morgan became upset after his colleague was given a series of racist nicknames and was routinely referred to as “golliwog” and “black Brian”. Mr Morgan himself was told to “stop speaking that jungle talk” when conversing in Patois with a colleague, and heard a white driver stating “black people should be burnt at the stake like Jews”.

Mr Morgan complained to the boss of the firm, Amanda Miles, however she did not put a stop to the “nicknames” as she did not see anything wrong with it. Mr Morgan therefore resigned after an argument with Ms Miles on this subject, and submitted claims for racial harassment and constructive dismissal to the Employment Tribunal; stating that he could no longer work within the racist culture at the firm.

The case came before the Employment Tribunal in 2011 with the Tribunal finding that Mr Morgan had been both subjected to race-related harassment and that he had been constructively unfairly dismissed by Halls and Gloucester. The Tribunal awarded him just under £13,500 for racial discrimination at the time of the claim, but has only just ruled on the compensation that he should receive for lost earnings as a result of his dismissal, with the Tribunal ruling that he should receive over £14,000 for lost earnings. Bringing his total award to just under £27,000.

The Tribunal found that Ms Miles was “entirely unreceptive” to the idea that the nicknames might offend black staff and that she also thought it entirely acceptable to distinguish one employee from another by referring to the colour of the skin of the black employee!

Employers need to understand that acts of discrimination and harassment can be very far reaching, remembering that it is not just direct and indirect discrimination that employees can claim; they can also claim discrimination by association, harassment and perception.