A judge has ruled that joking about chaining staff to their desks is “intrinsically racist” if it’s said to black employees.
According to The Times:
The ruling, which does not create a legal precedent, came in a case involving a remark made by a boss at a cleaning company in Manchester.
A tribunal was told that Teresa McArdle, a manager, made the comment to Adele Waring after claiming that she repeatedly left her work station.
Waring, who is of Caribbean heritage, sued Tudor Contract Cleaners over the comment and other instances of what she said was racial discrimination.
The judge, Pauline Feeney, said that “it was intrinsically racist to someone of African-Caribbean heritage”, but the tribunal ruled that the case failed on a technicality as Waring had claimed that the comment was victimisation instead of harassment.
The panel found in Waring’s favour in relation to several other claims and awarded her more than £18,000 in compensation.
She began working at the company in 2017, originally as a cleaner but later as a part-time administrator. The tribunal was told that in 2019 McArdle told Waring that “she needed to chain her to her desk” as the administrator “was always disappearing”.
She told the hearing that later that year four receptionists left the business and she was asked to cover some of their responsibilities.
Waring said that by the next year, the atmosphere at the office had become toxic as two colleagues “constantly” spoke in Polish while another would regularly “disappear” from his desk.
McArdle denied that she had used the word “chain”, saying that she may have said she needed to “tag” Waring to the desk but the tribunal found Waring’s version to be “more plausible”.
Waring resigned, citing race discrimination, including a claim that a colleague had said that black employees could not drive well.
The tribunal found bosses had racially harassed and discriminated against her by failing to understand why she was offended by the comment that “blacks can’t drive”.