'Secondhand car salesman' used as insult

An interesting decision has come out of the Employment Appeal Tribunal in regard to workplace banter.

In this case Evans, a sales representative, put in a claim against his employer Xactly Corporation Limited for discrimination on the grounds of disability, victimisation and harassment after he was dismissed for poor performance. He had tried to negotiate a £78,000 settlement.

His disability was Type 1 diabetes and the victimisation and harassment claims were centered around that and his links to the traveller community.

The claimant submitted that he was called various derogatory and demeaning names by his colleagues and his manager. The Claimant found offensive being called ‘jellied eel salesman’ and ‘secondhand car salesman’. He was also repeatedly called ‘a salad dodger’, ‘fat yoda’ and was compared to Gimli (a dwarf from Lord of the Rings), and on one occasion his colleague referred to him as 'fat ginger pikey'.

However, the Tribunal, and the subsequent Appeal Tribunal, found that this was all given out in the context of office banter. Mr Evans had apparently referred to his Line Manager as a “fat paddy” on a regular basis and the C word was often bandied about.  

This may be a welcome judgment for those who feel we have gone too PC but it does not give us a green light to indiscriminately insult and abuse our colleagues. As with all judgments whether employment related or otherwise, outcomes will be fact dependent and no two cases will be the same. The devil is very often in the detail and so if you have any concerns about any potential Tribunal or court cases, do speak to one of our experts and avoid the oft quoted, ‘mate down the pub’.

Lawgistics Members can get Employment Law advice from the legal team.

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Authors: Nona Bowkis

Published: 14 Nov 2018

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