Daily Express

‘Not racist’ to compare prejudice faced by black people to being ginger

- By Mark Reynolds

COMPARING the prejudice faced by black people to being bullied for having ginger hair is not racist, an employment tribunal ruled.

Sharing experience­s of persecutio­n is a gesture of empathy meant to build bridges with a colleague – and while the comparison might be “unhelpful” and is related to race it is not a breach of equality laws, the panel found.

Alex Ujah, a black Jobcentre worker, sued for racism after his manager Robert Rance told him that he too had experience­d bullying due to his hair colour. He accused Mr Rance of an “orchestrat­ed succession of racist microaggre­ssions”, adding he could not believe he was trying to liken his experience to “400 years of denigratio­n and slavery”.

His case was dismissed after the tribunal decided Mr Rance was trying to be his “ally”.

The Southampto­n hearing was told Mr Ujah began his admin role in Basingstok­e, Hants, in August 2020 but early on the pair had a clash of personalit­ies.

In December he accused Mr Rance and another boss of racial bullying, alleging Mr Rance confused him with another ethnic minority colleague.

Other complaints were being told off at work for using a personal laptop, for wearing headphones and for removing his shoes. Mr Rance agreed he used the wrong name but said he did it to others, including his own children.

Mr Ujah told Mr Rance his “environmen­t of double standards and racist aggression” affected him and asked him to stop. He said Mr Rance replied he knew how Mr Ujah’s “people” felt since he was bullied as a child for being ginger. Mr Ujah told the hearing: “Did this person have any comprehens­ion on what he had just said? By ‘my people’ did he mean people of colour, a tribe, clansmen, what?” Mr Rance denied he had referred to Mr Ujah’s “people” – which the panel accepted – but admitted that he had referred to the fact he was ginger. He said: “My ginger hair left me open to persecutio­n.

“I was spat on, beaten and left bloody...I had some view on how you may feel – not in relation to the racial prejudice black people [have] felt for hundreds of years.

“I do not believe that I created a hostile environmen­t for people of colour. I feel passionate­ly about fairness to people.

“I grew up ginger on a housing estate where ...my nose was broken by people who didn’t like the colour of my hair. People of colour had it much worse than me and I used to be the guy who would help scrape them off the pavement. It hurts to be accused of discrimina­ting against people because of their race.”

Mr Ujah’s claim of race discrimina­tion plus harassment and disability discrimina­tion was rejected after 12 days of proceeding­s.

The tribunal said, as a black African, he “sees much of life through the prism of race relations and discrimina­tion”, citing how when Mr Rance said he was thinking of buying an Audi “Mr Ujah replied that the SS had funded the Auto Union in Nazi Germany”.

Of the ginger hair complaint, Employment Judge Catherine Dawson said: “Mr Rance was attempting to show Mr Ujah that he wanted to be his ally.”

 ?? Target for bullies...ginger hair ??
Target for bullies...ginger hair

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