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Ex-England and Spurs footballer Paul Gascoigne has pleaded guilty to racially-aggravated abuse over a “joke” he made to a black security guard who was working at his show billed as “an evening with Gazza”. The court fined Gascoigne and ordered him to pay £1,000 in compensation to the guard. Fiona Cuming rounds up five employment law cases involving racism in the workplace.
Behaviour could potentially amount to racial harassment if it is unwanted conduct of a racial nature that is offensive or degrading to the recipient.
It is up to the recipient of the alleged harassment to decide whether or not the treatment is offensive.
Racial harassment can include: abusive language; racist jokes; racially offensive material; exclusion from workplace conversations or activities; and violence or the threat of violence.
1. Subconscious association
In Brown v Young & Co’s Brewery, the employment tribunal had the unusual task of considering whether or not a manager harassed a black pub worker when he told him that he “looked like a pimp” when he was wearing a promotional St Patrick’s Day hat.
The employment tribunal accepted that the manager had used the word “pimp” because the claimant was black and that the word was insulting and undermined him.
The tribunal acknowledged that the manager may have made the association subconsciously.
However, the tribunal found that the single comment had the effect of violating the claimant’s dignity and it was reasonable for the claimant to be offended.
2. “Banter” may not succeed as a defence
Employers investigating allegations of discriminatory comments should never brush off the complaint solely on the basis that the remarks were “banter”, as the employer in