Kings Oluebube, a Nigerian man who was called a ‘Chimpanzee’ by his colleague at work, has been awarded €30,000 for racial discrimination.
Gatekeepers News reports that an Irish firm, CPL Solutions Ltd, was ordered to pay €30,000 to Oluebube, a warehouse operative, after he claimed that his team leader called him a chimpanzee and made monkey noises while performing monkey dances in front of a number of co-workers, in late February 2019.
Although, Oluebube did not report the assault at that time until the said the team leader repeated the same abuse again in the presence of other teammates on May 21, 2019.
It was gathered that Oluebube reported the insults to the warehouse manager, who informed CPL Solutions.
According to The Irish Times, the company, which does business as Flexsource Recruitment, reviewed the allegations and the charges of harassment were upheld, with the team leader issued a final warning letter.
Oluebube requested in writing the details of the outcome of the investigation.
In response, the CPL staff member who conducted the investigation said she would like to clarify that Flexsource did not in any way condone what had happened between Oluebube and his work colleague.
She stated Flexsource was very sorry that Oluebube had to bear “the brunt of that situation”.
She stated: “I would also like to add, at the start when this was first brought to the attention of Flexsource, you said you would like [the team leader] to receive a warning and you wanted it to stay informal. You then changed your mind as the investigation was midway to say you sought the advice of a solicitor.
She stated: “Flexsource went ahead with the formal investigation meeting and have followed all process.”
Ruling on the matter, deputy chairman of the Labour Court, Alan Haugh held that CPL Solutions was not able to avail of legal defences to racial harassment under the Employment Equality Acts after evidence was heard that no steps had been taken to reverse the effects of the racial harassment Oluebube experienced.
Haugh also said CPL Solutions was not able to avail of a separate defence to the discrimination claim due to what the Labour Court described as the employer’s “very unsophisticated bullying and harassment policy” and to “the ad-hoc approach” adopted by a Flexsource staff member to the investigation of Oluebube’s allegations.
He, therefore, ordered CPL Solutions to pay €30,000, which is equivalent to about 63 weeks’ gross salary, to Oluebube for racial discrimination under the employment equality act.
The labour court’s judgment overturns the earlier ruling of the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) decision which dismissed Oluebube’s racial discrimination claim.