Ordered a manager to pay over £2,600

We often deal with grievances whereby banter or “off the cuff” remarks are made, often without the intention to offend.

In this case, the Leeds tribunal ordered a manager to pay over £2,600 to two staff members after he was found to have made an allegedly racist comment in the workplace.

On the 16th January 2019, Mr Woodhouse walked past the claimants’ desks, where a white colleague was sitting in a seat usually occupied by a black member of staff called Mattar.

He allegedly said to the white colleague: “Has Mattar been dipped and had his head shaved?”.

The two employees who raised the claim, both of Asian ethnicity, were “shocked” by what Mr Woodhouse said, especially as he seemed to find it funny.

They considered this to be a racist remark.

Mr Woodhouse denied having made the comment and in mitigation proposed that he could have been misheard when speaking about a football “strip” or “kit”.

The tribunal heard that before the incident, Mr Woodhouse’s working relationship with one claimant had completely broken down – she was under performance management and she felt unfairly treated by him causing her to request a shift change.

Following the alleged comment, the claimant raised a grievance against Mr Woodhouse citing bullying and harassment in addition to this alleged comment.

The grievance investigation didn’t uphold the allegations of bullying and harassment but did conclude that on the balance of probabilities, Mr Woodhouse was likely to have made the comment.

The tribunal made a judgement that the incident did happen and that this comment, despite being a “one off”, was “unwanted conduct related to race”.

The tribunal did believe that Mr Woodhouse had no intention to offend but this doesn’t mean that it wasn’t taken as such.

The claim was brought twofold – against Capita and Mr Woodhouse.

Luckily for Capita they were found to have taken all reasonable steps to prevent harassment including having robust policies and training.

This meant that there was no employer liability in respect racial harassment however Mr Woodhouse was ordered to pay just over £1,300 to each claimant personally.

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