Tyre fitter branded 'old white guy' wins £22k in discrimination case

·Freelance Writer
·3-min read
Desmond Owusu regularly taunted a colleague about his age and would also poke fun at him being white. (Reach)
Desmond Owusu regularly taunted a colleague about his age and would also poke fun at him being white. (Reach)

A tyre fitter from South Yorkshire has been awarded over £20,000 in compensation after a colleague called him an "old white guy".

Barry Moore, 55, was subjected to verbal abuse by Ghanaian colleague Desmond Owusu while working at Sean Pong Tyres in Rotherham.

An employment tribunal heard that Owusu would regularly taunt Mr Moore about his age and would also poke fun at him for being white.

The tribunal, which was held in Leeds, also heard that Owusu called Mr Moore "gay" on more than one occasion, despite knowing that Mr Moore was not.

Employment judge Eoin Fowell said that, as Owusu knew that Mr Moore was not gay, that term could "only have been a term of abuse".

Following the tribunal, Mr Moore was awarded a total compensation amount of £22,027.21 for unfair dismissal and discrimination.

The tribunal heard that Mr Moore and Owusu had worked together for a number of years and had previously been on good terms, with Owusu at one point having been in a relationship with Mr Moore's sister.

The pair worked for the owner and manager of Sean Pong Tyres, Sean Frimpong, who was also of Ghanaian descent.

The tribunal heard that there was a "pecking order" at work and a "small indication of the pecking order" was that, during the first COVID lockdown, Mr Moore was furloughed while Owusu and other colleagues remained at work.

Desmond Owusu and Barry Moore worked together at Sean Pong Tyres in Rotherham. (Reach)
Desmond Owusu and Barry Moore worked together at Sean Pong Tyres in Rotherham. (Reach)

The tribunal also heard that it was difficult to determine exactly when the relationship between Mr Moore and Owusu broke down, but that the company's case was that any abuse was "just banter".

However, the panel found that language used by Owusu when referring to Mr Moore amounted to harassment.

The tribunal also heard that Owusu called Mr Moore – who resigned in April last year after being signed off with depression – an "old white guy" and a "gay white man".

Judge Fowell said: "Although it is possible that two men in a robust working environment might use abusive language to each other without any bad feeling, there is a risk that it tips over into aggression.

"We conclude that that is what happened here."

In his conclusion, Fowell added: "[Owusu] may not have appreciated the effect he was having on Mr Moore but in our view it did create a hostile and intimidating working environment and amounted to bullying and harassment."

The panel said that they were satisfied the harassment was related to race and age and Mr Moore was awarded a total of £7,486.00 for unfair dismissal, and ££14,541.21 compensation for discrimination.

Data released in October last year showed that 28% of Black employees felt discriminated against by their employer, compared to 25% of white employees.

In 2019, the Trade Union Congress’ Racism at Work survey also suggested that over 70% of ethnic minority workers had experienced racial harassment at work, with some 60% saying they had been subjected to unfair treatment by their employer because of their race.

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