Saturday, January 02, 2010

Common Sense Rules in Race Case

hat tip : Lime

Park ranger wins compensation for wrongful sacking over 'racist' comment

A park ranger who was sacked for teasing a black colleague about the colour of his legs has won £40,000 compensation after a judge ruled that skin colour 'is a fact of life'.

Michael Farmer asked his fellow ranger Dwight Parker whether he was wearing polish on his legs when he arrived at work wearing shorts for the first time in the year.

Mr Farmer insisted he was not a racist and said colleagues always exchanged a certain amount of banter when the warmer weather prompted them to switch to shorts.

But Mr Parker complained to his manager and, when Mr Farmer apologised, refused to accept it and proceeded with his request for disciplinary action.

Mr Farmer was sacked for gross misconduct four months after the incident in May 2008 after a second disciplinary hearing by his employers Lambeth Council heard claims by two other rangers that it was not the first time Mr Farmer had made such statements and a suggestion that he was a member of the British National Party.

But a judge at Croydon Employment Tribunal has now ruled there was no evidence of previous misdemeanours nor evidence of BNP links.

Employment judge Lindsay Hall-Smith ruled that Mr Farmer had been unfairly dismissed, adding: "An individual's race or colour is a fact of life. It does not follow that alluding to such matters to or in the presence of the individual concerned necessarily involves racism or less favourable treatment of the individual."

Mr Parker said Mr Farmer told him of his outfit: "Dwight, what are you doing putting polish on your legs?"

Mr Farmer said he realised his colleague was "not the least amused by his comment", and added: "Well, I have to use sun tan lotion if I want a tan."

But Mr Parker emailed his manager, requesting a "full scale investigation and disciplinary action".

"I strongly believe Michael Farmer was being rude and disrespectful in a racially motivated way," he wrote.

Mr Farmer, a married father of two from Catford, South-East London, told the council he meant no offence.

"As is the tradition when a male colleague switches from wearing long trousers to shorts a certain amount of badinage ensues (last year when I was issued with new shorts there were cat calls and requests to turn the glare down from fluorescent legs)," he said.

"I have enjoyed a joke with Dwight on numerous occasions in the past. If I have offended Dwight this time then I can but apologise most sincerely."

He said he had previously set up a black youth community football team and the idea he was racist "was the antithesis of what I stand for".

Mr Parker would not accept his "informal" apology and, following a two-day internal investigation by his employers, Mr Farmer was told he was guilty of gross misconduct.

However, the tribunal found that Mr Farmer was innocent of the charge and that his case was badly handled by Lambeth Council.

"We were driven to the conclusion that the disciplinary hearing failed to maintain an objective approach to the serious allegation against the claimant," the judge said.

A Lambeth Council spokesman said: "We have a responsibility to take grievances from our staff seriously and investigate them rigorously, but we accept the ruling of the tribunal."

2 Opinion(s):

Anonymous said...

Sanity has prevailed! At first I thought "oops" but then I thought, if you can't even comment on the color of a persons legs, then when is this PC bullsh!t going to end??

Max said...

Nothing wrong with commenting on the whiteness of the white guys legs, something like, "Did the wife shoe shine your legs instead of the kids sports shoes this morning Andy?" Big joke EVERYBODY laughs. But this degenerate piece of an excuse for a human makes an issue of the shoe polish joke, what a load of rubbish, oks like this should be shot. Another thing the last time I hear the BNP was not an illegal organisation, so what if he belonged to them or not, it's not a crime.