Case law updates

HMRC failed to properly investigate racist remark

A Tribunal has found that an HMRC employee who felt unable to return to work after a contractor shouted a racist remark at him in a corridor was the victim of racial discrimination. The HMRC had failed to adequately investigate his complaints, suggesting that it was more appropriate for the perpetrator’s employer to discipline him. It then further failed to ensure this had been adequately carried out.

Following an incident in June 2016, when during a power failure in a Manchester tax office a facilities worker employed by G4S made a racist remark to Mr Jayeola, an HRMC assistant officer. Jayeola made a complaint to G4S following the incident but after seeing the worker again the following felt he had to leave the building. He did not return to work after that point.

Despite complaints from Jayeola about the time being taken for G4S to investigate the incident, which was causing him health problems, the senior manager dealing with the case was advised by the HR team that if Jayeola was unhappy, he should contact G4S directly. When he said he wanted the G4S employee either to be dismissed or moved to a different location, G4S told HMRC no further action would be taken.

The Tribunal found that HMRC did not adequately investigate the incident, accepting G4S’s statements at face value, and held that the organisation would have treated a hypothetical comparator – a white person – differently, which constituted racial discrimination. It said HMRC’s refusal to remove a known discriminator from the workplace was a clear breach of the diversity policy and shows that it “simply paid lip service to its declared zero tolerance policy”.