Settlement for probation worker after monkey chants

After being subjected to monkey chants by a colleague, a gentleman who had worked for the HM Prison and Probation Service has received a financial settlement from the former employer.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), which supported the case, said that Mr Lloyd Odain was employed by a contractor which was used by the Probation Service.

Mr Odain told how he was the subject of multiple racial discrimination incidents and harassment while he was working there. 

The final straw came when a fellow contractor made monkey chants towards him when he was in the middle of a conversation with other colleagues. 

Even though Mr Odain reported the incident to managers, the colleague returned to work after what Mr Odain described as a ‘flawed investigation.’

After the investigation Mr Odain felt that he was left with no other choice than to leave the job he enjoyed.

During the legal case, the Probation Service never disputed the fact that Mr Odain was the victim of the monkey chants. 

Rather, they focused on whether there was a liability to protect workers who were employed by third parties from being harassed by other workers who were also employed by third parties.

After a preliminary hearing, the HMPPS settled the case, but although there was a financial settlement awarded to Mr Odain, the HMPPS did not make any admission of liability. Neither was there any commitment from the Prison Service to review their policy on how contractors are treated.

Chair of the EHRC, Kishwer Falkner stated that every person going to work has a right to expect to feel safe from harm. She added that no one should suffer the ‘shocking racism’ that Mr Odain had suffered.

Mrs Falkner said that all employers, third party contractors and workers benefit when any incidents such as this are addressed quickly and appropriately by management.

‘In this case, it is extremely disappointing that HM Prison and Probation Service chose to defend themselves based on legal technicalities instead of positively committing to protect and support any staff members. Racism is never acceptable.’

The EHRC commented that they hoped the financial settlement would help Mr Odain to move forward in his life and get over the experience.

As the equality watchdog of Britain, the EHRC stated that they would continue to use their powers to assist people like Mr Odain to seek justice through initiatives such as their fund which is set aside for race discrimination cases.

Mr Odain commented that he felt ‘grossly let down’ by the Probation Service. He had worked in the Reading office for several years in many different positions. He took pride in his job and enjoyed helping people who were struggling in life.

After he had been subjected to monkey chants as well as other racist behaviour, he felt he had followed the correct processes in making his complaints. He was ignored and isolated because nothing was done. 

When he found out that the person who had behaved so badly was back working in the same building, he was appalled. It was the thought of receiving more racist treatment, along with receiving no support, which left him with no option but to resign from the job he was good at and loved.

Mr Odain said that he had spent over three years fighting for change and he hoped that because he had exposed the horrendous treatment he had received, HMPPS would learn a lesson from this case.

Barristers from Doughty Street Chambers supported Mr Odain, along with the EHRC’s fund for race discrimination cases.

The Ministry of Justice has yet to respond. 


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