Unfair dismissal for Lloyds’ manager who used racial slur

After being fired for using a racial slur during a training session, a former Lloyds Banking Group employee has won his case for unfair dismissal.

Working as manager at the bank, Carl Borg-Neal was one of over 70,000 employees who took part in race education training. This program was part of the bank’s Race Action Plan.

It was while discussing intent versus effect during one of the sessions in 2021, when Mr Borg-Neal was asked how he would manage a certain situation. The situation was described as overhearing someone from an ethnic minority using a word which may be considered offensive when used by someone not in that minority group.

The example Mr Borg-Neal gave was to use rap music. He said that the most common example he could think of was the use of the ‘N’ word in the black community. Unfortunately, he used the full word instead of the abbreviation, the tribunal was told.

Mr Borg-Neal apologised right away and did not repeat the word again. However, he did take four days off work because of the word usage. After this Lloyds dismissed him.

During the tribunal, employment judge Lewis said that Lloyds had been ‘entirely reasonable’ in upholding their opinion that the word is appalling. It should always be avoided in a professional environment because hearing it could be shocking and painful for a black member of staff.

Judge Lewis went on to say that it was a very unusual and particular circumstance of the case, and the tribunal felt that no reasonable employer would have dismissed an employer because of it.

Should Lloyds have felt that they wanted to make a point, the claimant should have received a warning. The whole purpose of the exercise was to demonstrate an example of intention versus effect, so that attendees could learn.

A claim for race discrimination was rejected by the tribunal as they felt there was no substantial part of the dismissal because Mr Borg-Neal was white. It was in fact because he had used the full word, and this had upset the trainer.

The tribunal upheld one of his claims for disability discrimination since the claimant has dyslexia. This condition can lead him to saying things before he loses his train of thought. 

The evidence of dyslexia led the tribunal to believe that on the balance of probabilities, the condition was a strong factor which affected how he expressed himself during the training sessions. He used the full word so that he did not forget his train of thought, rather than trying to find a way to avoid it.

A spokesperson for Lloyds Banking Group said that the company had a zero-tolerance policy for the use of racial language and racial discrimination.

There will be a remedy hearing in October to decide Mr Borg-Neal’s compensation.




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