A Nigerian national, Victor Kings Oluebube, who was called a chimpanzee and subjected to monkey noises by his team leader at work in Ireland has been awarded €30,000 for racial discrimination.
Labour Court deputy chairman, Alan Haugh, ordered recruitment firm CPL Solutions Ltd, trading as Flexsource Recruitment, to pay €30,000 to Oluebube for racial discrimination under the Employment Equality Act.
At the time of the two alleged racist incidents, Mr Kings Oluebube was assigned by Dublin-based firm CPL Solutions Ltd to Kuehne & Nagel as a warehouse operative.
Haugh ordered CPL Solutions to pay out the sum after finding that the firm “is vicariously liable for the harassment in question”.
He stated that in regard to the serious nature of the harassment and the effects that it has had on Mr Kings Oluebube, the redress for Mr Kings Oluebube should be dissuasive and proportionate to the injury suffered by him.
The €30,000 award is equivalent to approximately 63 weeks’ gross pay.
Haugh said CPL Solutions was not able to avail of legal defences to racial harassment under the Employment Equality Acts after evidence was heard that no steps were taken to reverse the effects of the racial harassment experienced by Mr Kings Oluebube.
Haugh also stated that CPL Solutions was not able to avail of a separate defence to the discrimination claim due to what the Labour Court described as the employer’s “very unsophisticated bullying and harassment policy” and to “the ad hoc approach” adopted by a Flexsource staff member to the investigation of the Mr Kings Oluebube’s allegations.
The decision by the Labour Court reverses an earlier ruling by the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) which dismissed Mr Kings Oluebube’s claim for racial discrimination.
The WRC adjudicator in June 2020 found that CPL Solutions was able avail of a defence under the Employment Equality Acts by showing that it took steps to reverse the effects of the harassment and to prevent a recurrence.
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