Appeal Court finds employer liable for racial abuse at work

A Court of Appeal judgment which found a company liable for the racial abuse inflicted on a worker by colleagues has been hailed by the Commission for Racial Equality (CRE) as a groundbreaking ruling.

According to Makbool Jav-aid, principal legal officer for the CRE and lead solicitor on the case, Raymondo Jones v Tower Boot Co, the ruling has “huge implications for the future of racial relations and equal opportunities in this country”.

Raymondo Jones, a 16-year-old youth of mixed race, was forced to give notice at Tower Boot after he was subjected to verbal and physical abuse. He was taunted with names such as “chimp”, “monkey” and “baboon”, and was also branded on the arm with a hot screwdriver, had metal bolts thrown at him and was whipped on his legs with a piece of welt.

The Court of Appeal overruled an earlier industrial tribunal ruling that the company was not liable for the discrimination. It said Tower Boot had not done enough to prevent the abuse and ordered it to pay Jones £5,000.

Javaid said the judgment overturned an earlier trend of exonerating employers from the actions of their employees – unless they acted directly in the course of their work.

He added: “Employers will have to show they took adequate steps and protective measures – a positive duty has been established on the employer, so they will not be able simply to turn a blind eye.”