Rastafarian Soldier Wins Race Discrimination Claim against MoD

A Rastafarian soldier has succeeded with his claims of direct race discrimination, harassment and victimisation against the Ministry of Defence. This comes after an employment tribunal heard he was denied entry into army barracks because a guard didn’t believe he was a soldier.

Below, we discuss what happened in the case and outline what constitutes workplace race discrimination. Then, we explore the steps employees could take if they face racial discrimination at work.

Contact us today if you’ve experienced something similar and want to claim compensation. Redmans Solicitors are employment law specialists who can assess your claim eligibility and advise how to proceed. Get in touch with us today by:

Race Discrimination of a Rastafarian Soldier

Dwight Pile-Gray joined the military in 2005, aged 37, as an accomplished musician with the Royal Corps of Army Music. He was one of the first Rastafarian soldiers to become a member of the guards.

He explained how he knew he’d stand out and encountered questions like “Aren’t you supposed to be a pacifist?”. Mr Pile-Gray told the tribunal how he would brush this off and put it down to ignorance. Unfortunately, he also spoke about times he experienced racist terminology and derogatory questions.

Despite this, the Rastafarian soldier discussed how he enjoyed his job and rose through the ranks, becoming a lance sergeant. Yet, things changed in July 2021 when he was refused entry into Wellington barracks in central London. He had left his ID in the barracks, and a white member of the guards didn’t believe he was a soldier.

Mr Pile-Gray said, “I was absolutely treated differently because of my appearance”, explaining how he understands when an interaction is influenced by race. Subsequently, he challenged the soldier but was accused of “playing the race card”.

Rastafarian Soldier Faced Disciplinary Action

As a result, Mr Pile-Gray decided to speak with an officer about what happened. He was asked if he wanted to complain but thought mediation would be better. This is because he felt he could explain why the behaviour he experienced was wrong.

Yet, to his shock, he became the one who would face a disciplinary process and was given a formal charge of insubordination. Mr Pile-Gray stated this “was the straw that broke the camel’s back”, feeling he could no longer continue his employment with this organisation.

Following the disciplinary action, Mr Pile-Gray made a service complaint, which was dismissed. Therefore, he decided to claim to an employment tribunal. Eventually, his case was heard, and the tribunal found in his favour concerning direct race discrimination, harassment and victimisation.

What Constitutes Race Discrimination?

The Rastafarian soldier succeeded with his claims, which included race discrimination, and in this section, we discuss what this means. Under the Equality Act 2010, discrimination occurs when someone is treated less favourably because of a “protected characteristic”.

Less favourable treatment isn’t defined in legislation, but it could include making another’s job harder or causing them emotional distress. Furthermore, the less favourable treatment could present as direct or indirect discrimination, harassment or victimisation. 

What’s more, there are nine “protected characteristics”, which include someone’s race. The ACAS guide concerning workplace race discrimination provides clarity on what race means. They explain it includes someone’s:

  • Skin colour
  • Current nationality or citizenship
  • Ethnic origin
  • National origin
  • Racial group

Therefore, if someone is treated less favourably because of an element that comes under their race, they could have experienced race discrimination.

What Should an Employee do if They Face Race Discrimination

If, like the Rastafarian soldier, an employee experiences racial discrimination at work, they should first make a complaint. In such circumstances, the employer should act quickly, take the complaint seriously and be fair and sensitive.

However, should the employer not take the complaint seriously or reach an unsatisfactory conclusion, the employee could file a claim to an employment tribunal. Here, the employee must adhere to specific eligibility criteria and time limits to make a claim.

This is where Redmans Solicitors could help. We are experts in all areas of employment law and could discuss your circumstances. Once we understand your situation clearly, we can advise on your possible next steps and guide you through the legal process. Moreover, we’ve helped numerous individuals with incidents like that of the Rastafarian soldier and offer several funding options to ensure we provide a service that best meets your needs.

So, to begin your journey with us now: