An employer has been ordered to pay $10,000 in compensation after racially abusing one of his employees. The employee raised the complaint in the Human Rights Review Tribunal for ongoing racial remarks made about his ethnicity and culture.

Comments made towards him became more frequent and abusive to the point he could no longer ignore them. Comments made about his accent caused the employee to feel humiliated and he was repeatedly told to only speak in English.

Although the employer admitted making the remarks, he argued they were made in a group setting and were merely ‘making banter” between each other, rather than targeted racial abuse.

He had asked the employees to all speak in English for safety reasons despite it being known English was limited for some staff.

Language that the employer subjected the employee to was found to have detrimental effect on him and created a demeaning work environment. The Tribunal noted that the employee raised these concerns in a meeting with his employer, leading to an apology and the end of the racial remarks.

Taking this into consideration, the Tribunal ordered the employer to pay $10,000 compensation for humiliation, loss of dignity and injury to feelings of the employee. For the employee, a ruling in his favour was a relief after a 4-year process. The result sets a standard for all employers in the workplace. Racial abuse should not be tolerated, and anyone subjected to it should be protected and compensated.

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Alan Knowsley & Brianna Cadwallader