Kenyan man awarded €10,000 over ‘racially motivated’ prank

Retail worker received call on April 1st from colleague claiming to be immigration officer

A Kenyan retail worker has been awarded €10,000 after being the victim of a ‘racially motivated’ April Fools prank. Image: iStock.

A Kenyan retail worker has been awarded €10,000 after being the victim of a ‘racially motivated’ April Fools prank. Image: iStock.

 

A Kenyan retail worker has been awarded €10,000 after being the victim of a “racially motivated” April Fools prank by a colleague who impersonated a Garda immigration officer.

The Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) heard that the worker received a phone call on April 1st last year from a man purporting to be from the Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB).

The worker was told that he was living and working in Ireland illegally and should report immediately to the GNIB in Dublin to answer questions as it appeared his documents had been forged.

The complainant said he agreed to attend the meeting and approached a manager to ask for permission to leave to deal with the matter. The man said he then noticed colleagues laughing and at this point one of them said it was him who had made the phone call, which was an April fools prank.

The man - who started working for the retailer in 2008 - told the WRC he was very distressed over the incident and after being upset about it over the weekend, complained to his manager the following Monday.

The manager told him it was a personal matter as the phone call was made from the colleague’s mobile phone.

Great distress

WRC adjudication officer Orla Jones found that the prank caused the complainant great distress as it led him to believe he had been illegally living and working in the State.

“I am satisfied that such a prank was racially motivated and that the complainant was singled out for this prank due to the fact that the complainant is of a different race than his colleagues,” she said.

Ms Jones said she believed “such a prank would not have been played on an Irish colleague as it would not have had the desired effect”.

She noted that management was “unsympathetic” when the matter was reportedand said the complainant had alleged that his manager warned his wages would be docked if he left work to visit a GP as a consequence of the prank.

The Kenyan man said the colleague behind the prank regularly called him names, including referring to him as ‘a black c**t’.

Grievance

After a formal grievance was lodged, the retailer opened an internal investigation into the alleged use of racist remarks and the prank. This concluded that the colleague acted “inappropriately by impersonating an officer of the GNIB” and it was also indicated that the matter would be “investigated further”.

The internal investigation could not find of any evidence of the complainaint being called a ‘black c**t’.

However, Ms Jones noted that during the investigation the colleague did not deny the allegations but stated that he wished to speak to his solicitor if such allegations were being made against him.

Ms Jones said it was clear from the evidencethat the investigation into the grievance and the appeal procedures applied were flawed and not applied fairly and consistently.