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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 30929
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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On Wednesday just gone I attended a booking at Weetabix in

Customer Question

On Wednesday just gone I attended a booking at Weetabix in Burton Latimer through an agency called HR Go. The shift was from 2-10pm. At about 7.30pm a male member of the team drew a swastika on the tunic of a lady sitting next to me on a conveyor belt. The lady tried to cover it up with a pen. He gave me a menacing look and I reported him to the supervisor. I took a photo of the man and the symbol on her garment and worked until the break time. I told the supervisor I did not feel safe enough to leave the shift at 10pm and get a bus home in view of the meaning of the symbol to me. The supervisor agreed that I could leave at 8.15. I reported the incident to the agency the next day and they said they would contact me. They didnt. I called today as I was meant to work today but was told by Gavin at HR Go that he was aware I had left the shift early and asked why (despite the fact I was told by Genna at HR Go that Weetabix had contacted him yesterday) he wanted to 'avoid confrontation' and that the woman involved in the 'incident' had had an accident and was unable to comment and that he wanted to get 'all sides of the story' this is after he initially said he wanted me to come in and see him. Gavin said he would contact me on monday to let me know if I was to work. Unfortunately I dont believe what he says. Clearly the man at Weetabix was racially intimidating me and it worked, I didnt feel safe at all and was very upset. It seems to me that they have not let me go back to work and now I am out of a job even though it was not me that was in error. What should I do?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 2 years ago.

Ben Jones :

Hello, my name is Ben and it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today.

Ben Jones :

Was the symbol directed at you? Are you of a specific race/religion that would be targetted by such offences?

JACUSTOMER-si91hy2z- :

Hello Ben

JACUSTOMER-si91hy2z- :

Yes it was directed at me - it was placed on the company tunic of the lady sitting directly to the left of me

JACUSTOMER-si91hy2z- :

I am by my own definition black - my father is half jewish and my mother is black

Ben Jones :

So you were employed by the agency and sent to the end user client on an assignment?

JACUSTOMER-si91hy2z- :

Yes I was

JACUSTOMER-si91hy2z- :

I registered with the agency on Tuesday of this week and they called me with the booking on Wednesday morning

Ben Jones :

ok the fact you are an agency worker not directly employed by the offending party will change some rights you may have, I need to trawl through the relevant legislation, can you please leave this with me and I will get back to you in a bit

JACUSTOMER-si91hy2z- :

ok - thank you

Ben Jones :

no need to wait here you will get an email when I have replied

JACUSTOMER-si91hy2z- :

ok

Ben Jones :

So to confirm, you are an agency worker employed by the agency and were sent to an end-user client for work. It is the end-user (or its employee) that subjected you to racially discriminatory behaviour. As you cannot rely on the normal "employment" provisions of the Equality Act 2010, because you are not employed by the end user, you must instead seek protection under the "contract worker" provisions contained in section 41 of the Equality Act 2010, where the end-user will be considered your "principal". To qualify, you must be employed by the agency and then supplied to the end user. This means there must be an employment contract with the agency where you are obliged to perform work personally for them, not a self employed worker where you can nominate a replacement. I must say it is a rather complex area of law and bound to be scrutinised by a tribunal if it were to get that far.

So assuming that the above criteria are satisfied, you could potentially seek to take action against the end user and/or the person guilty of the discriminatory act. The claim would be for race/religious discrimination and would be pursued in the employment tribunal.

Now of course legal action should only be used as a last resort and in the meantime you may try and resolve this with the agency or even the end user directly by highlighting the fact you appear to have been discriminated against and that you are considering your rights and the next steps, not directly threatening legal action as such but making it clear you know your rights and will apply them if necessary.

JACUSTOMER-si91hy2z- :

My concern is that I was meant to work today but am not working - I am very much in doubt that they will put me back in post on Monday after what was said

JACUSTOMER-si91hy2z- :

It seems unfair that I was, for want of a better word, the 'victim' and yet it is me who is out of work now

JACUSTOMER-si91hy2z- :

I am worried about the woman who was drawn on and what kind of 'accident' she had

Ben Jones :

There is nothing you can do about the woman and what happened to her, the issue is between you and the person and end user

JACUSTOMER-si91hy2z- :

I understand - I am concerned that if I let them know I am aware of my rights they will simply cease to provide me with work

Ben Jones :

that in itself could form part of the discriminatory conduct. There is nothing stopping them from doing this but it just means you can pursue it further if necessary. The law works in a way that it compensates you for wrongs suffered, but does not prevent the wrongs from happening in the first place

JACUSTOMER-si91hy2z- :

I understand - thank you

JACUSTOMER-si91hy2z- :

If I did decide to go down a legal/tribunal route how would I go about it? Obviously I dont have money

Ben Jones :

you have 3 months to claim but you will have to pay unless you are entitled to fee remissions

JACUSTOMER-si91hy2z- :

what are fee remissions? how much is the potential cost? what would compensation be if i do win?

Ben Jones :

remissions is where you can become exempt from paying fees depending on your circumstances. The guidelines are here:

http://hmctsformfinder.justice.gov.uk/courtfinder/forms/ex160a-from-07-october-eng.pdf

If you cannot get a remission then to go as far as a hearing it will be more than £1k.

The potential compensation depend son the level of discrimination suffered. Yours will likely fall into the Lower band - for less serious cases, for example an isolated incident or event (compensation between £600 - £6,000)

JACUSTOMER-si91hy2z- :

ok thanks

Ben Jones :

You are welcome.

JACUSTOMER-si91hy2z- :

i jus had a look

JACUSTOMER-si91hy2z- :

it appears i qualify for a fee remission as I am in receipt of jsa

JACUSTOMER-si91hy2z- :

i only worked for one day - that will no doubt be deducted but since they havent confirmed the booking as ongoing then I am still on jsa

JACUSTOMER-si91hy2z- :

who can I approach to help me?

Ben Jones :

Help you with what?

JACUSTOMER-si91hy2z- :

this situation

JACUSTOMER-si91hy2z- :

i am looking at acas website

Ben Jones :

Well I have helped with explaining your rights, ACAS will not assist you apart from giving you some advice on the phone which will be the same as what I said more or less, you can see Citizens Advice, you can also seek the help of the FRU if you want to take this to tribunal, but the rest is down to you - you wither get a lawyer to help with any claim or you make it yourself, many people do the latter it is not that difficult

JACUSTOMER-si91hy2z- :

ok thanks

Ben Jones :

My pleasure

JACUSTOMER-si91hy2z- :

bye for now

JACUSTOMER-si91hy2z- :

I cant seem to give a rating

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