Racism in the workplace can have appalling consequences for which employers are very likely to bear legal responsibility. In a tragic case on point, the loved ones of a young man who suffered a fatal heart attack after his line manager made his life a misery received £95,000 in compensation.
The man had endured a systematic campaign of workplace bullying and harassment which had elements of racism. He recorded some of his line manager's indefensible remarks concerning his race and religion. He received little or no support from his employer. Shortly after he was signed off work, suffering from stress, he sustained a cardiac arrest at home and subsequently died.
His partner and daughter, who was born after his death, were left to grieve. After they launched proceedings, the employer disputed claims that the man's treatment at work caused or contributed to his death. He had a pre-existing heart condition and was a smoker with a strong family history of coronary death.
Following negotiations, however, the employer agreed to a lump-sum settlement of the claim. The man's four-year-old daughter received £42,000 of the damages total and the balance was paid to his partner. The High Court had no hesitation in approving the settlement, which took into account litigation risks.