Racial Discrimination: Nigerian man awarded €30k after boss called him ‘chimpanzee’

A Nigerian man, Victor Kings Oluebube, has been awarded €30,000 over a racial discrimination incident at his workplace where his boss called him “a chimpanzee”.

The incident according to Oluebube happened on a date in late February 2019 at Kuehne & Nagel where he was assigned as a warehouse operative by a Dublin-based recruitment firm CPL Solutions Ltd, trading as Flexsource Recruitment.

He also said the team leader called him a chimpanzee and made monkey noises while imitating the gestures of a monkey in front of a number of co-workers. Oluebube did not report this incident at the time.

On May 21st, 2019, the team leader allegedly repeated the same racist abuse of Mr Kings Oluebube in the presence of other co-workers.

Alan Haugh, deputy chairman of the Labour Court, ordered CPL Solutions Ltd, to pay €30,000 to Oluebube for racial discrimination under the Employment Equality Act.

Haugh according to a report by Irish Times stated that in regard to the serious nature of the harassment and the effects that it has had on Mr Kings Oluebube, the redress for Mr Kings Oluebube should be dissuasive and proportionate to the injury suffered by him.

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

Mr Haugh said 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 experienced by Mr Kings Oluebube.

Mr 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 the Mr Kings Oluebube’s allegations.

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

The WRC adjudicator in June 2020 found that the CPL Solutions was able avail of a defence under the Employment Equality Acts by showing that it had taken steps to reverse the effects of the harassment and to prevent a recurrence.

As a result, the WRC stated that CPL Solutions did not harass Mr Kings Oluebube on the race grounds.

The case came before the Labour Court following an appeal by Mr Kings Oluebube against the WRC ruling.

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