Walls Have Ears
The Brussels Journal has posted an article about the recent decision by the Watford Employment Tribunal to award damages to a Maltese employee of the HSBC Bank who overheard another employee make ‘racist remarks’. A spot of googling led to this from the Work Place Law website:
HSBC has been found guilty of racial discrimination after an employee overheard racist comments made by her manager.
In a Watford Employment Tribunal, Ruby Schembri claimed that she had overheard her supervisor, Debbie Jones, say “I hate foreigners” and “I am against immigration” in a conversation with another employee in April 2005.
Schembri, a Maltese national, told the tribunal she had been upset by Jones’ comments and reported them to her employers. Despite HSBC describing Jones’ remarks as “unacceptable”, she was cleared internally of misconduct and was not disciplined by the bank.
Jones told the tribunal all she had said was that she would vote for Robert Kilroy-Silk in the 2005 general election because he would get rid of immigrants. She denied using the word foreigners.
However, the tribunal considered her statement from 2005, in which she admitted saying she would vote for Kilroy-Silk because he “would get rid of the foreigners.”
The tribunal stated that it was reasonable to infer that Jones’ remarks showed a “substantial dislike of foreigners.”
It unanimously ruled that Jones and HSBC were both guilty of racial discrimination and ordered them to pay compensation to Schembri.
This is one of the first cases in the UK to find that comments not made directly to another person can constitute as racism.
From the Daily Mail we learn that:
Mrs Schembri, who came to Britain with her husband in 2004, added: “I found Debbie’s racist comment to be offensive and very hurtful. I left the room and was on the counter. I began to cry.”
The damages awarded are £750 to be paid to the fragile Mrs Schembri by both HSBC Bank and Miss Jones, but the more insidious feature of the outcome was that Mrs Schembri was racially discriminated against.
Where was the racial discrimination? Mrs Schembri was not passed over for promotion on account of her ‘race’, nor was she paid differently. All Mrs Schembri sustained was some distress due to an overhead remark or two, the comments were not directed at her. Furthermore, xenophobia — a fear or hatred of foreigners or foreign things — is clearly not racism — hatred, rivalry or bad feeling between races; belief in the inherent superiority of some races over others. The distinction between xenophobia and racism becomes clear if one asks the question, ‘What race are foreigners?’
Miss Jones was undoubtedly foolish, in the current climate within Britain where political correctness reigns supreme such opinions are ‘beyond the pale’ no matter how firmly and honestly held; it is safer to keep quiet and only express such thoughts in private when one can be assured of the audience and not being overheard. An accusation of racism or sexism can now be fatal to any career and most people, who hold views considered politically incorrect by the multi-cultural elite, act accordingly. The only hope is that this decision is not binding on other cases as an employment tribunal sets no precedence for other tribunals.
For those people who believe that mass immigration will irreparably alter Britain for the worse and that multi-culturism leads to the formation of enclaves of immigrants who will not assimilate, this ruling is disheartening; the rule at work for such people is ‘Walls have ears’.