Case Review: Black employee awarded £27k after colleague’s “Golliwog” comments

A black employee working for a fruit and vegetable wholesaler in Gloucester has been awarded £27,000 in compensation after overhearing his colleague being referred to as a “Golliwog”.

Roy Morgan was a delivery driver and became upset after a colleague, Brian Ennis, was referred to as “Black Brian” and “Golliwog Brian”. This was apparently to distinguish this Brian from another Brian working for the same company who was white. Although Mr Ennis himself, the subject of the racial name-calling, did not bring legal action against his employers, his colleague Mr Morgan complained that he was no longer able to work within the racist environment and sued the company for constructive dismissal.

The Bristol Employment Tribunal heard that Mr Morgan’s employer, Amanda Miles, failed to stop the name-calling and thought that the labelling of “Black Brian” was entirely sensible.

According to an article in the Daily Telegraph, it was also reported that Ms Miles was “entirely unreceptive” to the suggestion that the “Golliwog” nicknames might have offended any black employees.

The Employment Tribunal found in favour of Mr Morgan and stated that the racist nicknames being used, even though not against him directly, had “violated his dignity”.

Other racist remarks quoted at the Employment Tribunal which were alleged to have taken place at the company, included “stop speaking that jungle talk” and also “black people should be burnt at the stake like the Jews”.

Mr Morgan was awarded £27,000 in compensation for constructive dismissal and racial harassment. The Tribunal heard that swearing and name-calling was common in the wholesaler’s warehouse. Ms Miles, after the Judgment, said that it was “absolutely ridiculous” and that the Employment Tribunal had been “the most dodgy, pathetic process”.

The Employment Tribunal concluded: “The Claimant worked for an employer that tolerated not only racial banter in the workplace, but also the expression of extreme forms of racial prejudice. The Claimant found this comment to be offensive and was concerned that no steps appeared to be taken to address it.

“Ms Miles was entirely unreceptive to the notion that calling someone by the colour of their skin could cause offence. She had given no thought to finding another way to distinguishing the two Brians that did not involve labeling one of them by the colour of their skin.

“She had had no training in the principles of equal opportunity and appeared to have an entirely closed mind to what those principles might entail.”