Case 3: The facts
Mr Donaldson, who is African-Caribbean of Jamaican origin, was dismissed for assaulting a fellow employee who had used racist language against him. Klaus Piertzak, who is white and of German nationality, was given a final written warning for the abuse but was not dismissed. Donaldson claimed that he had been treated less favourably on the grounds of his race.
The EAT accepted that Piertzak’s remark was racially derogatory, but said there was a qualitative difference between “racial abuse uttered once and a criminal assault”. The employer had a policy of dismissal for violence. On this basis, the difference in treatment was not based on race and his dismissal was not discriminatory.
The EAT said the tribunal should have explained why it had not inferred race discrimination from the employer’s unacceptable replies to the Race Relations Act questionnaire; however, this did not make that decision unsound.
The case was remitted on the point solely of the detriment that Donaldson suffered as a result of the abuse, for which his employer would be liable.
Donaldson v MISWA Chemicals EAT/0653/03