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Nigerian awarded €30,000 for racial discrimination in Ireland

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A Nigerian residing in Ireland taunted for his looks by a senior colleague has been awarded €30,000 (equivalent to about N14 million) after the court found his employer, CPL Solutions, ‘vicariously liable’ for racial harassment.

Victor Kings Oluebube alleged he was called a chimpanzee by his team leader in February 2019 and subjected to monkey noises in front of a number of co-workers. The court held that the recruitment firm CPL Solutions took no steps to reverse the effects of the racial harassment experienced by Oluebube.

Ireland’s Deputy Chairman of the Labour Court Alan Haugh stated that with regard to the serious nature of the harassment and the effects that it had had on Oluebube, the redress should be dissuasive and proportionate to the injury he suffered.

The employer was also flayed for ‘very unsophisticated bullying and harassment policy’ and ordered CPL Solutions Ltd, trading as Flexsource Recruitment, to pay the €30,000 to Oluebube for racial discrimination under the Employment Equality Act.

During the proceeding, Oluebube said he did not report the first incident of racial harassment that occurred in February 2019 and that on May 21st 2019, the team leader repeated the same racist abuse, also in the presence of other co-workers.

He then notified his manager of the alleged racist abuse who subsequently escalated it to management and an investigation into the allegation.

The team leader was issued a written warning, after the investigator upheld the complaints of racial harassment against him, but failed to provide Oluebube with any terms of reference or timeline for her investigation.

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The CPL Solutions witness confirmed to the court that neither Oluebube nor his co-workers had been provided with any training in relation to the prevention of bullying and harassment in the workplace.

The decision by the Labour Court reverses an earlier ruling by the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC), which dismissed Oluebube’s claim for racial discrimination.

The WRC adjudicator, in June 2020, held that CPL Solutions showed it took steps to reverse the effects of the harassment and to prevent a recurrence and as such did not harass Oluebube on racial grounds.

Delivering a counter judgement after an appeal by Oluebube, Haugh stated that the victim was not given sight of any witness statements procured by the investigator, or the opportunity to respond to anything said by the perpetrator of the alleged harassment.

The judge stated that the CPL Solutions investigator simply informed Oluebube verbally in a general way that she had concluded her investigation, that she had upheld his complaints and the alleged perpetrator had been sanctioned.

The €30,000 award is equivalent to approximately 63 weeks’ gross pay.

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