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Direct Race Discrimination in the Workplace

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Did you know that a comment uttered by one employee to another in the workplace could result in Employer liability?

In December 2017 the case of Nazarczyk v TJ Morris was heard by the Employment Tribunal and supposedly John Cowley a worker of the Liverpool based retailer told Mr Nazarczyk that he should ‘go back to Poland’.

Mr Nazarczyk claimed that he had been subjected to a number of discriminatory behaviours from Mr Cowley including having his annual leave refused unless he gave him a bottle of vodka, his clean clothes were being dumped on the floor and there were general observations about non-British workers being treated differently to British workers.

Mr Cowley denied these claims and because there was no evidence presented to the tribunal they were unable to establish any racial discrimination behind the alleged conduct.

However, the ‘go back to Poland’ comment made by Mr Cowley in October 2016 was considered to be direct discrimination, as it linked this unfavourable treatment to his nationality.

The Equality Act 2010 states that direct discrimination takes place when someone is treated ‘less favourably’ due to their actual race, perceived race or the race of someone with whom they associate.  Indirect discrimination occurs as the result of a policy, practice, procedure or workplace rule that applies to all workers, but particularly disadvantages people of a particular race.

As a result of the ruling by the Employment Tribunal, TJ Morris were instructed to implement diversity training and for Mr Cowley to apologise to Mr Nazarczyk ahead of a remedy hearing.

Kim says “this case highlights the need for Employers to take notice of the behaviours in the workplace and the importance of appropriate training to all staff.  Discriminatory awards are uncapped so large compensation payments could be the result”

For help and guidance with Race Discrimination policies for your business, or for information on the Equality & Diversity in the Workplace training.  Contact Kim Hayton or Kerry Mercer on 01925 230000