Employees encouraged to shout out insults and offensive terms

Pobl Group, a housing association, organised diversity training for its staff on the 8th March 2018.

Teresa Georges was a cleaner for the Group, recently employed on the 4th January 2018.

During this training, the trainer wrote the ‘N-word’ on a flipchart and encouraged employees to shout out insults and offensive terms with the intention to illustrate that some people found certain discriminatory words offensive but that they did not have the same impact on everyone.

Georges, who was the only black person in the room, explained to the tribunal that she felt “under pressure” during the session and the racial slurs left her “deeply offended and uncomfortable”.

The Cardiff Employment Tribunal found in favour of Theresa Georges as the racial epithets amounted to racial harassment.

The judge determined that it was reasonable for Georges to have been offended by the training and it was not reasonable for her employer to encourage people to shout out offensive words and introduce racially offensive terms to the session.

This is a stark reminder that no matter how well-intentioned the motives, it is easy to get things wrong and it is the perception of the recipient that matters.

At this stage there is no compensation awarded as a hearing will be listed in the future to consider compensation.

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