In Mr S. Famojuro v (1) Boots Management Services Limited (2) Mrs E. Walker A black senior pharmacist has won a racial harassment case against Boots after a judge threw out a white colleague’s defence that she ‘could not have’ discriminated against him because she has black friends.
Boots pharmacy technician Emma Walker argued she ‘could not have’ discriminated against Samson Famojuro as two black Nigerian women went to her wedding, and she is ‘friendly’ with other black colleagues.
But employment Judge David Massarella found ‘the fact that a person has black friends does not mean they cannot discriminate in other contexts’.
People who defend themselves against accusations of prejudice by pointing to ethnic minorities in their social circle can still discriminate against them, the judge said.
As such, the claim cannot be used as a legitimate defence, the tribunal concluded.
He was stereotyped as an ‘aggressive black man’ and the harassment was so bad he was ‘shaken and feared for his safety’, the hearing was told.
The east London tribunal heard Mr Famojuro began working as a relief pharmacist, covering for the main pharmacist when they are absent, in March 2012.
On July 18, 2020, he was assigned to work at the Silva Island Way Branch in Wickford, Essex.
The pharmacist worked the shift with technician Mrs Walker and pharmacy assistant Nicole Daley, two white women who were junior to Mr Famojuro.
During the shift, Mr Famojuro was subjected to ‘open insubordination’, ‘highly personalised abuse’, and Mrs Walker threatening to call the police on him, the tribunal heard.
The tribunal heard Ms Daley had refused a work-related request he made and snapped at him in front of customers.
About 20 minutes later, Mr Famojuro ‘calmly’ approached Ms Daley and asked her for a ‘private word’.
However, Ms Daley claimed he had a ‘very loud, aggressive’ tone and ‘was in close proximity to [her], shouting that [she] needed to leave’.
Ms Daley began to cry and Mrs Walker stepped in.
During a heated row Mrs Walker shouted at Mr Famojuro and ordered him to leave even though she did not have the authority to do so, the tribunal heard.
Mrs Walker phoned store manager Amy Munson, who is also white, believed the allegations without question and shouted at Mr Famojuro down the phone saying ‘you’re an utter disgrace for making Ms Daley cry’, the hearing was told.
Mr Famojuro ended up having to leave the store ‘humiliated’ after Mrs Walker threatened to call the police.
He later felt as if he had no choice but to resign from Boots after a lengthy investigation process.
Judge Massarella ruled Mr Famojuro was racially harassed. Compensation will be decided at a later date.
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