Mixed-race Irish man awarded €5,000 after colleague's 'hateful' comment about immigrants

Mixed-Race Irish Man Awarded €5,000 After Colleague's 'Hateful' Comment About Immigrants
The Workplace Relations Commission upheld the worker’s claim for harassment on the grounds of race against his employer. Photo: Collins
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Gordon Deegan

A mixed-race Irish man who “felt shame and hurt” arising from a colleague’s alleged “hateful” comment regarding immigrants has been awarded €5,000 in compensation.

This follows Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) adjudicator Orla Jones upholding the worker’s claim for harassment on the grounds of race against his employer.


Ms Jones directed the un-named medical device manufacturer to pay the worker €5,000 after finding that its remedial action “fell short of what is required to reverse the effects of such harassment”.

The man said he is of mixed-race origin as his father is of African descent. He told the WRC that on July 19th, 2023, during breakfast in the work canteen, a conversation was started around immigration, refugees and their place in this country.

The conversation had started about a refugee centre in the local area and the team were discussing protests that had been ongoing.

The man alleged that during this conversation, his team leader “made a malicious and hateful comment regarding immigrants”.


The complainant – employed as a Process Quality Setter – alleged that his female colleague made racist remarks about asylum seekers and he found them offensive as a person of mixed-race origin.

He alleged the comment was as follows – “what it used to be, was that the men from these countries would come over here and get jobs and send the money back to their families. Now they’re coming over here and they’re mixing with us. That’s the problem.”

The man contended that this comment “was such a devastating blow to my pride as a person from a mixed background. I felt shame and hurt that day, and I have carried that with me for almost six months”.

He said: “The impact that that conversation had on me goes far beyond what I have been able to express in words. Like many others who have experienced racism, I have suffered from severe stress and anxiety because of this situation.”


The man initially raised an informal grievance under the advice of HR on July 21st and an investigation was opened.

Because the man was suffering from stress and periods of intense anxiety around the situation at work, he went to see his doctor on July 26th, and he recommended that he avoid any stress and advised him to take some time off work.

The doctor certified the man unfit for work due to mental stress and he did not return to work for the remaining three days of that week.

The man said that he was informed by HR that his team leader did not recall making the comment.


The complainant submits that he then proceeded to raise a formal grievance as he was angry and disappointed that she had not been forthcoming and willing to apologise.

On October 25th, after the formal grievance investigation had concluded, the complainant had a meeting with the two adjudicators. The outcome of the formal investigation ruled that there was no evidence to support his claim, but that they were sorry for any feeling of frustration and the stress caused by the whole process.

The complainant wrote a letter of resignation to the company on November 3rd, due to his frustration at the outcome of the investigation, but also due to the fact that he went through so much stress and hurt throughout the whole process and was not once offered a transfer.

In her findings, Ms Jones found that the employer did not do all that was necessary to reverse the effects of the harassment.


Ms Jones noted that while the alleged comments were not directed at the complainant personally, she was satisfied from the evidence adduced that the comments made in the course of the conversation in the canteen had the effect of “creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment” for the complainant.

The employer told the hearing that all parties accept that a conversation took place at break in the canteen concerning the protesters in a local area.

The manufacturer stated that the alleged statement that caused offence to the complainant cannot be substantiated.

The employer stated that the complainant’s complaint was managed appropriately, reasonably, in line with company policy and best practice.

It submitted that it took immediate action once the matter came to their attention and followed both their policy and good practice in terms of initially trying to mediate the matter between the two employees concerned.

In response to separate complaints by the worker, Ms Jones found that the man was not discriminated against by the employer on grounds of race and was not victimised by the employer.

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