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Use of the ‘n’ word four times in diversity awareness training was racial harassment 

Makbool Javaid

In Georges v Pobl Group Ltd, G attended an equality and diversity course. The tutor wrote the words ‘n****r’ and ‘paki’ on a flip chart and then asked the delegates to shout out the most derogatory and offensive words that they could think of. Among the words, ‘n****r’ was shouted out three times. G was the only black person in the room. G left the training in shock and was subsequently signed off sick. Her grievance was rejected on the basis that the purpose of the exercise was to show that discriminatory language could cause offence. An ET upheld G’s racial harassment claim. There was no intent to offend but given the use of the ‘n’ word by the trainer and by three others, it was reasonable for G to feel extremely offended an uncomfortable. The ‘n’ word is a deeply loaded and offensive word with distressing racial connotations and clearly had the effect of creating a degrading and offensive environment for G and violating her dignity. Although the underlying purpose of the training was entirely appropriate there was no explicit rationale as to why the words ‘n****r’ and ‘paki’, both racially offensive, were written on the flipchart to start the ball rolling and the training was conducted insensitively. 

The updates are kindly provided by Simons Muirhead & Burton Law firm

This update provides summary information and comment on the subject areas covered. Where employment tribunal and appellate court cases are reported, the information does not set out all of the facts, the legal arguments presented and help judgments made in every aspect of the case. Click on the links to access full details. If no link is provided, contact us for more information.  Employment law is subject to constant change either by statute or by interpretation by the courts. While every care has been taken in compiling this information, SM&B cannot be held responsible for any errors or omissions. Specialist legal advice must be taken on any legal issues that may arise before embarking upon any formal course of action.

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