An Irish company, CPL Solutions Ltd, has been ordered to pay €30,000 a Nigerian employee, Victor Kings Oluebube, over racist discrimination he was subjected to by his team leader.
Oluebube, who was assigned by CPL Solutions to Kuehne & Nagel as a warehouse operative, had reported that in late February 2019, that his team leader called him a chimpanzee and made monkey noises while performing monkey dances in front of a number of co-workers, Irish Times reports.
He, however, did not report the assault at the time. The Nigerian said the team leader again repeated the same abuse in front of coworkers on May 21, 2019.
Oluebube was said to have then reported the insults to the warehouse manager, who informed CPL Solutions.
The company, which trade as Flexsource Recruitment, reviewed the allegations and the charges of harassment were upheld, with the team leader receiving a final written warning.
Oluebube requested the specifics of the investigation’s result in writing.
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 said Flexsource went ahead with the formal investigation meeting and have followed all process.
But the deputy chairman of the Labour Court, Alan Haugh, in his decision, said Oluebube’s compensation should be proportionate to the injury he suffered, given the serious nature of the harassment and its effects.
Haugh said CPL Solutions had not taken steps to reverse the effects of the racial harassment experienced by Oluebube.
He said the CPL Solutions investigator had failed to provide Oluebube with any terms of reference or timeline for her investigation, adding that she had not given him sight of any witness statements procured by her, nor had she given him the opportunity to respond to anything said by the perpetrator of the alleged harassment.
He, therefore, ordered CPL Solutions to pay €30,000, which amounts to 63 weeks of gross salary, to Oluebube for racial discrimination under the employment equality act.
The labour court’s judgment overturns an earlier workplace relations commission (WRC) decision that dismissed Oluebube’s racial discrimination claim.
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 decision made Oluebube to file an appeal at the Labour Court.