Recently, Mr Rizwan Shah, succeeded in a race discrimination claim against his employer - Royal Mail - and received a compensation payment of £30,000.
Race Discrimination has been very clearly against the law since the Race Relations Act 1965, which was the first piece of legislation to deal with racial discrimination. Since then, the legislation has evolved and we now rely upon the Equality Act 2010 to protect employees against any type of discrimination, including on the grounds of race.
Mr Shah's claim was based around the fact that he was subjected to racial slurs from colleagues in the Watford Delivery Office of the Royal Mail where he has worked since 2004. Mr Shah claimed that he was even physically assaulted in a race-related bust up in the workplace and that this was not investigate when he raised the issue with his superiors.
At the Employment Tribunal, Mr Shah's legal representatives claimed that the allegations were not investigated due to racial discrimination in and of itself.
In reaching a decision at the Employment Tribunal, the panel led by Employment Judge McNeill QC ruled in Mr Shah's favour and found that he was subject to direct discrimination and harassment on the grounds of race and awarded him more than £30,000 in injury to feelings.
How common is this?
Unfortunately, there are still cases of race discrimination in the workplace. However, it does seem that employees are quicker to speak up and do challenge the discrimination which is changing the culture and does not allow for it to be swept under the carpet anymore. This is so important and definitely a positive move against discrimination in all its forms.
Separately, it is important that parties do not think that those sums of awards are the 'norm' in the Employment Tribunal and a lot of factors will come into play when the sum is considered. For example, in Mr Shah's case, there is the fact that he received a letter full of racial comments, and the physical bust-up, followed by the lack of support and investigation from the employer - therefore his financial award was higher. Thankfully, not many people suffer this kind of behaviour in the workplace, but it does mean that their awards will be lower in reflection of that.
Whatever the case - the takeaway that we must have from it is that discrimination has no place in the workplace. This means that if you are subject to discrimination of any kind, or you see any in the working environment, it is important to speak up about it whether it is to raise a grievance or raise an informal concern initially depending on the circumstances.
We have some more information about the different types of discrimination and the options available here and we are still on hand to provide advice and support at all stages of a dispute or even before it becomes a dispute and you are looking to resolve matters more amicably.
This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.