A 55 year old worker has won more than £20,000 in a race and age discrimination claim after a black colleague called him an ‘old white guy’.
Barry Moore repeatedly told he was too old to do his job by younger fellow tyre firm employee Desmond Owusu, an employment tribunal heard.
A panel ruled the constant harassment Mr Moore received amounted to bullying, forcing him to resign after complaining he didn’t come to work to be ‘abused and victimised’.
He has now won £22,027 compensation after winning his claims for unfair dismissal and for race and age discrimination.
The tribunal held in Leeds was told Mr Moore worked as a tyre grader for Sean Pong Tyres Limited, a firm in Rotherham, South Yorks, which recycles and exports tyres.
The tribunal heard Mr Moore was one of two white workers while the owner Sean Frimpong, Desmond Owusu and another employee called Eric Barkoh were all of Ghanaian origin.
Mr Moore and Mr Owusu had known each other for many years. In fact Mr Owusu had dated Mrs Moore’s sister at one time and for a long time they were on good terms. They worked closely together every day and took their breaks together.
However, the tribunal heard their relationship ‘went downhill fairly rapidly’ towards the end of 2020 and start of 2021, when Mr Moore complained about Mr Owusu.
The company’s case is that this was just banter and was reciprocated. Mr Owusu said they often swore at each other but insisted they never used any racist language.
Employment Judge Eoin Fowell said: ‘(Mr Moore) found it intimidating, and complained about it and tried to get Mr Frimpong to bring it to an end.
‘There is no suggestion from Mr Owusu that he ever felt intimidated by Mr Moore. Indeed he accepted that he did enjoy winding Mr Moore up.’
In January 2020, Mr Moore filed a formal complaint and described Mr Owusu as shouting abuse at him, coming up into his face, taunting him, telling him he was too old and threatening to hit him.
He said he was called a ‘gay white man’, a lazy w****r, being too old to do his job, and on one occasion Mr Owusu being called him a c**t in Ghanaian.
This was in front of Mr Barkoh and Mr Frimpong, who had to translate, and then tell Mr Owusu to stop.
Judge Fowell added: ‘Mr Moore’s account that he was mainly on the receiving end of such language seems to us more plausible. This sort of thing is not banter. There is no element of humour in it.
‘Although it is possible that two men in a robust working environment might use abusive language to each other without any bad feeling, there is a risk that it tips over into aggression. We conclude that that is what happened here.’
The pair were made to discuss their issues and shook hands at the end of a short talk about this in January 2021.
However, the tribunal heard the truce ‘must have lasted only a few days’, because Mr Moore soon after made a written complaint to his boss.
He wrote: ‘Unfortunately I have no choice but to lodge a complaint. I have spoken to you on several occasions via phone and in person in regards to the racism slander, and discrimination of my character and a lot of abuse.
‘Since Desmond started at the company he has done nothing but single me out and slurring abuse at me causing a lot of stress and sleepless nights.
‘I feel intimidated at times this isn’t acceptable I am 55 years old and don’t come to work to be abused and victimised.’
The next month, Mr Moore was signed off work by his GP for depression. after the initial two week sick note he was signed off again and in the end he decided he could not return.
In April, Mr Moore submitted his resignation, stating: ‘The situation has gotten so bad causing me many days of stress, upset, and sleepless nights and loss of appetite.
‘This situation has also affected my mental health and gave me no choice but to seek medical help.
‘I feel for my own sanity I must move on.’
Judge Fowell concluded: ‘It is clear that the abusive remarks were on a regular basis.
‘In the claim form he referred to being called an old white guy.
‘He may not have appreciated the effect he was having on Mr Moore but in our view it did create a hostile and intimidating working environment and amounted to bullying and harassment.
‘Hence the resignation was in our view a constructive dismissal and an act of direct discrimination on grounds of age and race.’
The tribunal rejected an additional claim by Mr Moore that he had also been the victim of sex orientation discrimination as well.
Source: Daily Mail