Mrs Duralska worked in the medicine division of North Bristol NHS Trust. She was subjected to offensive comments from former colleagues surrounding her Polish nationality.
Comments made by one colleague included:
- Remarks that none of her friends liked foreigners;
- A suggestion that her own husband resigned from work due to Polish workers speaking Polish amongst themselves; and
- Several negative comments about Polish people after hearing about a Polish gang trafficking slave workers.
Another colleague made remarks such as “no more Polish drama” when Mrs Duralska said she would be working with another Polish worker.
Mrs Duralska was also “instructed to work on the 6th floor” following a return to work after some time off.
The NHS Trust decided to terminate her fixed-term contract and did not offer a renewal.
Employment Tribunal (ET) Proceedings
Following her departure from the Trust, Mrs Duralska took them to the Employment Tribunal (ET).
The ET ruled that Mrs Duralska was constructively and unfairly dismissed. It also found that she was unlawfully harassed for a reason related to race and/or nationality in respect of the offensive comments made by her former colleagues and that she was victimised by the Trust.
The ET ordered the Trust to pay Mrs Duralska £25,605.50 which included compensation for loss of statutory rights, loss of earnings and injury to feeling award.
Race is one of the protected characteristics under the Equality Act 2010 which includes colour, nationality, ethnic origins and national origins. A number of race discrimination claims are often brought as a result of discrimination against an employee due to the colour of their skin or ethnicity, however, the above case is a clear example that claims can also arise where a person is discriminated against due to their nationality.
Employers should ensure that they are aware of and provide training to employees on all types of race discrimination to avoid instances such as the above occurring in the workplace.
before commencing that internal process.
Charlotte Dowdy is a Trainee Solicitor at Nelsons.
For advice on or further information in relation to the subjects discussed in this article, please contact Charlotte or a member of our expert Employment Law team in Derby, Leicester or Nottingham on 0800 024 1976 or via our online form.