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Tuesday 21 November 2017

Tesco blasted for 'inexplicable' response to racism complaint

Tesco was heavily criticised in the tribunal’s report. Photo: RollingNews.ie
Tesco was heavily criticised in the tribunal’s report. Photo: RollingNews.ie

Tesco Ireland has been strongly criticised by the Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT) for its treatment of a staff member who was racially abused by a store manager.

"Do you think a black will have access to the high-value speciality cigarette room?" the employee was asked by a manager.

The EAT awarded Nicolas Alayi €24,000 after finding that he was constructively dismissed by Tesco under the Unfair Dismissals Act.

In a hard-hitting determination, the EAT found the lack of action by Tesco over the incident on May 23, 2014, between Mr Alayi and the store manager, was "inexplicable".

The EAT said "even more extraordinary" was Tesco's proposal that Mr Alayi "move to a different store, rather than moving the manager to a different store".

The EAT also found the company took no action to ensure the store manager apologised to Mr Alayi.

The flashpoint in the case arose when the manager, referred to as DMcE in the EAT report, was alleged to have said to Mr Alayi: "Do you think a black will have access to the high-value speciality cigarette room?"

Shouting

Mr Alayi - who had worked for Tesco since 2007 - said that DMcE was shouting at him not to let anyone near the cigarette room.

The EAT said DMcE subjected Mr Alayi "to an unprovoked and aggressive verbal outburst".

Mr Alayi lodged a grievance concerning DMcE's treatment of him and during the investigation, DMcE admitted including the phrase "would you let a black stranger into that room?" when addressing Mr Alayi.

The group's personnel manager, AM, carried out an investigation and found that DMcE did make "inappropriate" comments. However, AM could not substantiate if the comments were made with racial intent. She recommended that DMcE apologise to Mr Alayi.

Mr Alayi was unhappy with the findings and appealed his grievance internally.

Mr Alayi said that Tesco had offered him an alternative role in another store, but he felt he could not return to work while DMcE continued to work in the store.

He said that DMcE never apologised, which had been twice recommended by Tesco.

Mr Alayi resigned from his job in January 2015.

The tribunal found that Tesco's failure to follow through on its own finding of an inappropriate comment, and the manager's and Tesco's subsequent conduct, justified Mr Alayi in believing that he had been constructively dismissed.

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