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Lloyds bank manager wins unfair dismissal claim after using the N-word

Makbool Javaid, Partner - Simons Muirhead Burton

In the case of Mr C Borg-Neal Lloyds Banking Group PLC Carl Borg-Neal, was fired for using the full racist slur during a discussion about the impact of language at an online race education training course attended by about 100 of the bank’s line managers. Judges at a London employment tribunal ruled that although Lloyds’ executives may have felt that anything other than a dismissal would mean condoning the use of the word, the firing was still unfair.

“If the bank wanted to make a point, it could have given the claimant a warning,” the judges said in their ruling. “The whole purpose was to explore intention vs effect, and for the attendees to learn.”

The training took place in July 2021. When Borg-Neal asked how he should handle a situation where he heard someone use language that might be offensive if not used by someone within that ethnic minority.

“The most common example being use of the N-word in the Black community,” he asked in the class using the full word.

The language distressed the trainer at the session who was said to be filled with “incredulity, rage and sadness” and needed to take time off, according to the ruling.

Borg-Neal, a longstanding manager who first joined Lloyds in 1993, apologized immediately and Lloyds’ managers accepted that he acted without malice. But Borg-Neal’s dyslexia can lead to him blurting thoughts out, the tribunal said, which likely meant that he used the full word rather than finding a way to avoid it.

For Borg-Neal, the impact was “enormous,” judges said in the decision. “He lost a job where he had found he could excel with his dyslexia.”

The judges ruled that the dismissal involved disability discrimination and will decide the size of a payout in October.

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