Employer’s assumption that a complaint raised by a black employee was alleging race discrimination was held in itself to be discriminatory…
The EAT has held that an employer who received a complaint by a black employee discriminated against that employee by assuming that his complaint was about racial conduct.
In this case, a black employee lodged a complaint regarding tension between himself and a white colleague. No mention was made in the complaint that the tension was because of race. However, at a meeting, the employer commented to the employee concerned that he was alleging race discrimination. The EAT found that such a comment, when nothing had been said to provoke it, resulted from the application of a stereotype and was itself discriminatory.
This case highlights the need to keep an open mind about the causes of workplace disharmony and to properly investigate matters before reaching any conclusions.
The full case can be found here (Case name: Royal Bank of Scotland pls v Morris UKEAT/0436/10/MAA)