Tesco guard wins €24k after taking racial abuse case to EAT
TESCO Ireland has been criticised by the Employment Appeals Tribunal over its treatment of an African security man who was racially abused by a store manager.
The rebuke came as the tribunal awarded Nicolas Alayi €24,000 when it found he was constructively dismissed by Tesco from one of its Limerick city stores.
In a hard-hitting decision, the EAT described the lack of action by Tesco Ireland over the incident between Mr Alayi and a Tesco manager as ‘inexplicable’.
The tribunal stated that ‘even more extraordinary’ was Tesco Ireland’s proposal that Mr Alayi ‘move to a different store, rather than moving the manager’. It said this was ‘inappropriate and unfair’.
The EAT also found Tesco Ireland took no action to ensure the store manager apologised to Mr Alayi.
The flashpoint came when a Tesco store manager, referred to only as DMcE in the EAT report, is alleged to have told Mr Alayi: ‘Do you think a Black will have access to the highvalue speciality cigarette room?’, just after 9am on May 23, 2014.
Mr Alayi – who had worked for Tesco since 2007 – said DMcE was shouting aggressively at him to not let anyone near the cigarette room.
The tribunal found that DMcE had subjected Mr Alayi ‘to an unprovoked and aggressive verbal outburst’.
Mr Alayi lodged a grievance concerning DMcE’s treatment of him, and during the investigation, DMcE admitted that he had included the phase ‘would you let a black stranger into that room’ when addressing Mr Alayi.
The group’s personnel manager, named only as AM in the report, carried out an investigation and found DMcE did make ‘inappropriate’ comments and recommended DMcE apologise to Mr Alayi.
Mr Alayi was unhappy with these findings and attended an appeal hearing on October 10, 2014, which recommended he apologise.
At an EAT hearing in Limerick, Mr Alayi said Tesco offered him an alternative role in another store, but that he did not want to transfer to another store as he enjoyed working in his current place.
He also felt it was unfair that he was recommended to move and not DMcE. Mr Alayi resigned from his job in January 2015.
In its determination, the EAT stated that it found the lack of action by Tesco Ireland over the May 2014 incident as ‘inexplicable’.
The tribunal found that the failure by Tesco Ireland to follow through on its own finding of an inappropriate comment, and the manager’s and Tesco Ireland’s subsequent conduct, justified Mr Alayi believing that he had been constructively dismissed.
‘Would you let a black stranger in?’