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Worker labelled ‘Borat’ was victim of direct racial discrimination rules Employment Tribunal

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In a decision of the Leeds Employment Tribunal this week a polish worker was awarded compensation after it ruled that the nickname ‘Borat’ was racist. The term, originating from the Sacha Baron Cohen film of the same name, constituted direct race discrimination. Worker, Adrian Ruda, told the tribunal he was “degraded and humiliated” by the moniker.

As well as paying £2,250 in compensation, Mr Ruda’s employer was ordered to put in place a workplace harassment and bullying policy. The claim was allowed out of time, the tribunal considering that it was in the ‘interests of justice’ to allow it to go forward. Employment judge, Jonathan Whittaker ruled “The application of the nickname “Borat” violated Mr Ruda’s dignity in the period in question and created for him a degrading, humiliating and defensive work environment. Although the majority, if not all, other employees had nicknames applied to them, the examples of other nicknames which were given to the tribunal were not in any way associated with the racial or national origins of the persons in question. There was therefore a significant difference between the nicknames applied to others and the nickname applied to Mr Ruda.”

Mr Ruda’s barrister, Daniel Barnett defended the seriousness of the claim. He said “although the case sounds frivolous, imagine if an African employee was nicknamed “Uncle Tom” or “Kunta Kinte”. There is no difference in principle; Mr Ruda was given this particular nickname because of his national origins and for no other reason. Other employees who were not from Eastern Europe had been given nicknames associated with their personal characteristics rather than with their national origin.”

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Written by Andrew Hodges

September 9, 2011 at 8:33 pm

Posted in Comment, LinkedIn

Tagged with , ,

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