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Driver compensated for 'golliwog' comments aimed at colleague

Posted: 17th September 2013   In: Business Employment, Individual Employment

A black driver has been awarded £27,000 compensation after he became upset at hearing a colleague being called racist nicknames.

Roy Morgan worked for a fruit and veg wholesale company inGloucester. He was not subjected to direct racism himself but often heard his colleague, Brian Ennis, referred to by other workers as ‘golliwog Brian’ and ‘black Brian’. This was supposedly to differentiate him from a white worker called Brian.

Mr Morgan could not tolerate what he considered a racist culture so he resigned and brought a claim of constructive dismissal.

The Employment Tribunal atBristolheard evidence that company director Amanda Miles did not put a stop to the name calling because she did not see anything wrong with it.

The tribunal ruled that having to listen to these racist nicknames had violated Mr Morgan’s dignity. In giving its decision, the tribunal concluded: “The claimant worked for an employer that tolerated not only racial banter in the workplace but also the expression of extreme forms of racial prejudice.

“This was known about by Ms Miles. It did not occur to her to take any steps to curb this practice as it did not occur to her that there could be anything wrong with it.

“Ms Miles was entirely unreceptive to the notion that calling someone by the colour of their skin could cause offence.

“She had given no thought to finding another way of distinguishing the two Brians that did not involve labelling one of them by the colour of their skin.

“She had had no training in the principles of equal opportunity and appeared to have an entirely closed mind to what those principles might entail.

“That Ms Miles had no index of concern about this practice satisfied us further that there was a culture of racism that was tolerated in the workplace.”

Mr Morgan was awarded £27,000 compensation for racial harassment and constructive dismissal.

Please contact Robert Bedford or John Carter if you would like more information about the issues raised in this article or any aspect of workplace law and discrimination.