|Miss R Grey v RL Retail Services Ltd 2207400/2020
For the full judgment click HERE
Picture Credit: The Times
The Claimant was of mixed Caribbean and white English heritage and had been employed as a part-time Sales Associate at the Ralph Lauren flagship London store since 2015.
Her complaints began when a new store manager was appointed in June 2019.
The Claimant made several claims against the manager, regarding his treatment of her. The majority of which were not found proven by the tribunal.
The tribunal found both the Claimant and key Respondent witnesses unreliable and that much of the Claimant’s evidence lacked credibility. The majority of the Claimant’s complaints were therefore not proven. This gave the tribunal “pause for thought” in relation to the one allegation it did uphold of comments made by her Manager when interviewing her during a grievance.
The Respondent Manager was found to have said “you’re the European Union aren’t you? Your being mixed race and all…you’re the United Nations.” and “You’re the United Colours of Benetton”
The tribunal found that the Manager’s protestations that the comments did not have racial connotations were “implausible” and “were not only clumsy and careless, but offensive.”
The tribunal said that the language used was “patently related to the claimant’s mixed heritage.” Because of the nature of the language, it concluded that it had the purpose of creating the environment and of violating her dignity as proscribed by 26 of the EQ. The ET concluded that whilst it had not upheld the majority of the allegations this complaint was “sufficiently grievous to create the proscribed effect objectively.” In making that decision the IT took account of the matter not being a peer-to-peer comment but that made by a manager in a position of power and authority over the Claimant.
The claim of racial harassment was upheld, and the tribunal confirmed that in the alternative it amounted to an act of direct race discrimination because the language used was patently related to the Claimant’s mixed heritage. Her race was a significant and effective cause of the treatment.
Remedy is to be decided separately.