An English lorry driver has won a £3,500 payout for race discrimination after his boss described him as “lazy” it has been reported.
According to The Times, James Heeley told a tribunal that his colleagues teased him repeatedly over his nationality, making jibes that he was workshy. He said that he had heard Gurvinder Singh Birk, boss of Birk Holdings, mentioned that no more English drivers should be used as they are lazy and only interested in claiming benefits.
The Times reported that although the company officials insisted that the workers had been joking, the panel ruled that Heeley had suffered race discrimination and harassment. Heeley was awarded £2,500 for injury to feelings and a further £961.74 for a breach of employment law.
The tribunal ruled that between 2018 and 2019 Heeley was the victim of numerous discriminatory comments. He told the hearing that senior staff at the transport company had said that he did not do much work because he was English. He also accused two employees of making “discriminatory comments”. Heeley said that when he returned after a few days off sick a worker said, “Oh, the lazy English worker has decided to come back to work.”
The hearing was told that Heeley was sacked in 2019, with Birk citing concerns about his performance, attendance and time keeping.
“The comments are serious such that they create a hostile and/or intimidating environment because they are made by a number of reasonably senior individuals, over a period of time, repeated and in a workplace in which the claimant was a minority,” said employment Judge Jennifer Bartlett.