UK: XEROX SUED FOR $16M. OVER ALLEGED RACIAL ABUSE

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UK: XEROX SUED FOR $16M. OVER ALLEGED RACIAL ABUSE

 user 2008-07-24 at 11:28:21 am Views: 61
  • #20332

    http://www.computerworlduk.com/management/careers-hr/my-career/news/index.cfm?newsid=10184
    Xerox sued for £8m over alleged racial abuse
    Policies alone ‘not enough’ to prevent racism at work, says employment law expert
    Xerox,
    the printer and photocopier supplier, is being sued by a former
    employee for £8 million over alleged racial abuse.Nardos Mulugeta, an
    Ethiopian national, is claiming that as a result of the abuse at work
    he attempted suicide on two occasions, according to reports.He claims
    another member of staff had said he was “lucky to be working with us –
    his grandfather used to work as a servant”, and had said he wanted
    Mulugeta to “go home”.Mulugeta was signed off work in 2004 with
    depression, and says Xerox blocked him from seeing a counsellor and
    prevented him from transferring to another office, it was reported in
    the Daily Mail newspaper.

    Xerox said in a statement that it denied the charges and would “vigorously defend” its position.
    “It
    is Xerox’s policy to provide a working environment free of
    discrimination. We take all allegations of this nature very seriously,
    and support diversity across all aspects of business,” it added.Matthew
    Tom, senior employment solicitor at law firm Blake Lapthorn Tarlo
    Lyons, said that having a policy against racism was not enough in
    itself to stop the problem in many businesses, even though it was an
    important step.“It’s very hard to say this is enough,” he said. “You
    need a track record of the right training, and of severe discipline of
    staff who break the rules.”“That’s the legal position – on a practical
    level you need to nip the problem in the bud at an early stage,” he
    said, adding that negative publicity in such situations can be “very
    bad” for companies.

    Businesses in Xerox’s position, of being
    sued for racial abuse, sometimes claim that the incidents took place
    outside work. But in this case it has been reported that at least some
    of the discrimination took place in the office.Another possible
    argument in such a situation, Tom said, is that the wrongdoing employee
    was at fault instead of the company, which would argue it had strict
    policies and controls in place. But shifting responsibility to the
    employee is “a very difficult test to pass” in court, he said.A company
    taking this line would be expected to show a “consistent pattern of
    severe discipline” of any staff committing racial abuse, he said.