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Sky customer advisor wins race discrimination claim against diversity officer after being told she must have been ‘oppressed’ due to her Latino heritage

Makbool Javaid, Partner - Simons Muirhead & Burton

In Mrs J Bradbury v Sky In-Home Service Ltd Jane Bradbury identifies her race as Latino, although she was adopted and is not aware of the race of her parents She was brought up as someone who was white British by her white British adoptive parents. Her skin colour is consistent with someone of Latino ethnic origin. Sky In-Home provides services for the installation and maintenance of equipment in customers’ properties. It has about 3,000 employees. It shares services with other members of the Sky group of companies, including for HR.

Mrs Bradbury was employed as a customer advisor. She was left ‘distressed’ after Rosemary Cook – a colleague at Sky – insisted she must have experienced prejudice due to her Latino heritage. Ms Cook made the remark during a conversation about a presentation she was due to give about racism following the murder of George Floyd and the emergence of the Black Lives Matter, an employment tribunal heard.

Mrs Bradbury ‘forcibly’ rejected the assumption that was made from her colleague.

‘I have never felt oppressed in my life, and I think it is wrong for this person to assume because of the colour of my skin I have without even knowing anything of my background ethnicity or upbringing,’ she said.

The 50-year-old proceeded to take several days off work after she became self-conscious about her skin colour and had concerns over whether she was being treated differently because of her race.

The tribunal ruled that though Ms Cook had not meant to cause offence, the remark was ‘blunt’ and an assumption which amounted to stereotyping.

The panel ruled: ‘The remark was one particularly concerning the colour of Mrs Bradbury’s skin, which is not white. It was clear to the Tribunal that the remark was made because of that colour, such that it was a kind of discrimination. In short, the remark equated the colour of Mrs Bradbury’s skin with her having been oppressed and that she would have felt that oppression, which had not been her view or experience. We should make it clear that we did not consider that Ms Cook deliberately used offensive language, nor did she deliberately seek to cause harm’.

Mrs Bradbury was awarded £14,000 in damages.

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