Employee who was told to “go back to Poland” was racially discriminated against (Nazarczyk v TJ Morris Limited & Cowley)

In the case of Nazarczyk v TJ Morris Limited & Cowley ET/2401275/2017 the Employment Tribunal held that a Polish worker was subjected to direct race discrimination when a colleague made the comment to him that he should “go back to Poland” after an argument.

The facts in Nazarczyk v TJ Morris Limited & Cowley

Mr Nazarczyk was an employee of TJ Morris Limited (“TJ Morris”), based in Liverpool. Mr Nazarczyk was a Polish national.

Mr Nazarczyk made a claim to the Employment Tribunal alleging that a number of acts of race discrimination had taken place in the workplace, including:

  • That a colleague, Mr Cowley, would deny Mr Nazarczyk leave unless Mr Cowley was given a bottle of vodka
  • Mr Nazarczyk’s clean clothes being dumped on the floor by Mr Cowley
  • General allegations that Mr Nazarczyk had been treated differently from his British colleagues because he was foreign
  • That Mr Cowley had told Mr Nazarczyk that he should “go back to Poland” when there was a disagreement over working arrangements

Mr Nazarczyk supplied the Employment Tribunal with evidence that he had submitted a grievance regarding the comment from Mr Cowley that he should “go back to Poland”, and that TJ Morris had rejected his grievance but had apologised for Mr Cowley’s behaviour.

The decision of the Employment Tribunal in Nazarczyk v TJ Morris Limited & Cowley

The Employment Tribunal upheld Mr Nazarczyk’s claim for direct race discrimination in respect of one head of claim: that Mr Cowley had subjected Mr Nazarczyk to direct race discrimination in making the comment that he should “go back  to Poland”.

Direct  race discrimination (section 13 Equality Act 2010)

The Employment Tribunal held that there was insufficient evidence to support any of the allegations of direct race discrimination save that of the comment that Mr Nazarczyk should “go back to Poland”.

The Tribunal found that the comment that Mr Nazarczyk should “go back to Poland” was inappropriate and that it had been been made because Mr Nazarczyk was not of British nationality – the Tribunal disagreed with Mr Cowley’s argument that he would have made the comment “go back to Bath” to a British worker from Bath, and in any event stated that the comment was not the same as it lacked racial overtones.

The Tribunal directed TJ Morris to implement equality and diversity training for its employees and, further, that Mr Cowley apologise to Mr Nazarczyk.

The Tribunal ordered that a remedy hearing be held in due course to consider how much compensation Mr Nazarczyk should be awarded.

Our solicitors’ view on Nazarczyk v TJ Morris Limited & Cowley

Chris Hadrill, a specialist employment solicitor at Redmans, commented on the case: “This case shows that a single inappropriate comment related to a worker’s protected characteristic (such as, in this case, their race) can lead to a successful claim for discrimination. Employers should be careful to train their employees in diversity and equality policies in order to achieve two objectives: 1) to train employees in how to deal appropriately with their colleagues; and 2) in order to protect themselves against being vicariously liable if one of their employees does discriminate against or harass a colleague.”

The judgment of the Employment Tribunal can be found here