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Why Nicknames Could Lead to a Legal Minefield

Why Nicknames Could Lead to a Legal Minefield 

Can bellowing a nickname across an office constitute race discrimination?  Or is it just banter or political correctness gone mad?

A recent UK employment tribunal ruling saw a Polish engineer awarded compensation after being referred to as Sacha Baron Cohen’s infamous creation & lsquo;Borat’ in a decision that could open up a wave of copycat claims based on country of origin. 

Barrister Snigdha Nag is a Senior Lecturer at The City Law School, City University London, and an expert in employment law. She warns there are some important steps to be taken by employers and employees alike. 

Snigdha explains:

&middot         Never mind colour, are the comments about country of origin?  If so, it could be racism.

&middot         Never mind the reaction, the recipient may feel obliged to laugh along. Many migrant workers feel a need to fit in. That doesn't mean they are not offended.

&middot         The courts give little truck to the notion of 'workplace banter' and neither should employers.

&middot         Avoid having an equal opportunities policy at your peril.

&middot         However expensive or unnecessary, training your staff now may save a lawsuit later.  

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