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Manager must pay compensation for racially abusing colleague

man signing contractA council manager has been held personally responsible for compensating a work colleague he subjected to racially abusive comments.

The case involved Mr A Leader, who worked for Leeds City Council as an environmental action operative. He described himself to the Employment Tribunal as black Afro-Caribbean.

During one shift, he was a passenger in a works vehicle being driven by his manager Andrew Hossack. The radio broadcast announced that the temperature was 11°C at the Winter Olympics.

Leader told the court Hossack then said to him: “If you think this is cold then get your black arse over there.”

Leader said he looked at Hossack “in astonishment” before being asked: “Your arse is black isn’t it?”

The vehicle was then delayed behind a lorry with a Polish registration plate prompting Hossack to comment: “These f***ing foreigners.”

Leader asked to be dropped off at the next point nearest to his home.

He raised a grievance with his employers on his next shift, stating that he felt Hossack was a racist and did not want to work with him again.

Leeds Council confirmed that the incident was being dealt with under its disciplinary policy, and Leader would not be required to work with Hossack.

However, there was a possibility of Hossack gaining a promotion that would mean Leader had to contact him each day for his instructions.

Leader made a claim of racial discrimination and harassment against both Hossack and the council. Hossack did not attend but the judge accepted Leader’s evidence as “coherent, credible and convincing”.

The case against the council was dropped as it had taken all reasonable steps to prevent Hossack from making racist comments, a fact accepted by Leader.

However, the Employment Tribunal found that Hossack was guilty of racial discrimination and ordered him to pay Leader £2,769 for injury to feelings plus interest.

Please contact us if you would like more information about the issues raised in this article, or any aspect of employment law.

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