January 14, 2015

Perception of cultural differences is not race discrimination

The Claimant complained to her supervisor that he had seen another employee viewing what he considered to be pornography online. The supervisor’s comment was that what the Claimant perceived to be pornographic might not be considered to be so by others and this might simply be due to cultural differences. While, on the face of it, this might have raised a case of race discrimination, all three Courts, from the Tribunal to the Court of Appeal held that the explanation given was non-discriminatory and was merely describing the difference between the Claimant, who was described as a "smart and professional individual" and the other employee, described as "somewhat of a man about town". The Court of Appeal considered that the reason the supervisor said what she did was not in any way influenced by the Claimant’s national origin or religion and that, although this might have been her subjective motivation, the actual reason for what she said was what mattered.

This legal update is provided for general information purposes only and should not be applied to specific circumstances without prior consultation with us.

For further details on any of the issues covered in this update please contact Gemma Ospedale, Partner in Employment on 020 7583 2222.

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