A Greggs worker has won compensation in a racial discrimination case after a manager threatened him and two colleagues in a “reprehensible” rage.
The winner of the case, Solomon Kahsay, and two other junior colleagues, Yonas Tesfamariam and Robeil Araya, were under investigation over accusations they were taking unauthorised breaks and falsifying their attendance, the tribunal heard.
But Kahsay, and his two co-workers, said they felt they were being treated differently by their manager, Craig Dixon, due to their race during the investigation.
According to emails sent to Dixon from the site’s service supervisor, the three workers were “not happy with the way in which he was managing the investigation” and were to “go ahead with the allegation of race discrimination”.
This email allegedly triggered Dixon, who was on his day off, as he came into work and reportedly ripped his face mask off, while exclaiming to the three workers “if you take this further you will be in big trouble."
The court ruled this outburst as “reprehensible” and said the harassment was linked to the race of Kahsay and his colleagues, who are all from Eritrea.
The judge said: "Mr Dixon went onto site because he was aware the [workers] were unhappy. By the time he arrived at site he was fired up because he had to attend work on his down day. The tribunal concluded the behaviour of Mr Dixon on that day was unacceptable, to raise his voice to a junior employee is undesirable to then throw his mask onto the desk was reprehensible.
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"This is not only unwanted conduct but would create an intimidating, hostile, degrading humiliating or offensive environment for Mr Kahsay. The tribunal considered words used by Mr Dixon were significant, 'If you want to take this higher you will be in big trouble'.
"He was aware Mr Kahsay wanted to pursue race allegations and was clearly 'fired up'. The Tribunal concluded that the actions and words are linked together and were because of [the workers] wishing to pursue their race claim. Therefore they were subjected to harassment related to their race."
On top of racial discrimination, the three workers have claimed unfair dismissal, as they were eventually sacked from the bakery’s production site in July 2021 over the unauthorised breaks and allegations of race were not investigated.
At the hearing, Kahsay said his long breaks were due to IBS, for which he presented a doctor’s note to his employer, but the investigators at Greggs reportedly said it had “no merit”.
The hearing concluded that the workers had been unfairly dismissed and had been treated differently to other staff members on the grounds of racial discrimination. The three workers will receive compensation to be decided at a later date.