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Employment Law Case Update: Racial Discrimination

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The case of Zulu and Gue v Ministry of Defence illustrates how a small action on a photograph can amount to discrimination.

Mr Zulu and Mr Gue were two former soldiers who served with the 3rd Battalion at Melville Barrack in Colchester. On Mr Gue’s door was a photo of himself and Mr Zulu. After someone had drawn a swastika, a Hitler moustache and a racist remark on the photographs on Mr Gue’s door, Mr Zulu and Mr Gue claimed they had been victims of racial discrimination.

The Employment Tribunal (ET) upheld their claims stating that the graffiti was “unquestionably related to race”.  Although it is unknown who did the graffiti, the ET held that the act of carrying out the graffiti “was so unpleasant that it can only have been done with the purpose of violating the claimants’ dignity and creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating and offensive environment for them”.

The Equality Act 2010 protects people from discrimination related to any protected characteristics, which includes a person’s race. The ET found the Army had not taken reasonable steps to prevent the racist behaviour.

The case highlights that employers must take reasonable steps to protect their employees from discrimination and harassment. One way employers can offer such protection is for employers to have an equal opportunities policy and an anti-harassment and anti-bullying policy. These policies will explain what kinds of behaviour are unacceptable, how employees can report their concerns and the consequences for those who engage in such behaviour. These policies should be communicated to all staff and they should be enforced using the disciplinary policy. Equality and diversity training may also be beneficial to staff.

As an employer, it can be difficult to keep up with the ever changing world of employment law, and make sure certain documents like your equal opportunities policy or staff hand books and contracts, are up to scratch. Our Peace of Mind package is designed to take that stress and worry away and let you focus on running your business. Through the package, we can assist you in drafting policies, contracts or hand books, as well as any training needs you may have. You’ll also have an experiences employment lawyer just a phone call away should any urgent issues crop up. To find out more about Peace of Mind and what it can do for your business, click here. You can also call our Employment team today on 023 8071 7717 or email

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This is for information purposes only and is no substitute for, and should not be interpreted as, legal advice.  All content was correct at the time of publishing and we cannot be held responsible for any changes that may invalidate this article.