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Court / Bus company accused of discrimination cleared in employment tribunal

A LOCAL bus driver, originally from Liverpool, has lost an unfair dismissal tribunal against his employer after accusing his boss of discrimination when she allegedly mocked him by referring to comedian Harry Enfield’s famous ‘Scousers’ sketch.

Antony Ryan, who started working for R Robertson and Sons Ltd in August last year, claimed he was extremely offended and felt insulted after his boss told him and a colleague, Lee Cox, that “you boys need to go and calm down, calm down”.

The incident happened when a grievance meeting that had been scheduled to take place in person on 29 January was moved online due the need for one of the participants to self-isolate.

Ryan was off work for two days because of what was said. His self-certified sickness was later confirmed by a doctor, but Ryan claimed the sickness note was never collected by the bus company.

Ryan claimed that he was so upset and stressed by the incident that had he driven a bus the following day he would have put himself and others at risk in contravention of the health and safety at work and road traffic acts.

After not appearing for his shift on 31 January, he was dismissed the following day on grounds of inappropriate conduct and unauthorised absence.

Ryan’s claims against his former employer of unfair dismissal and discrimination were all thrown out by employment judge J Young.

In his judgement, made on 27 September and published this week, the tribunal judge said: “The alleged word used could only refer to a very specific comic stereotypes of a Liverpudlian and not directly or by interference to national origin.

“The comment may well have been unprofessional or uncalled for but it is not in my view discriminatory because there was no mocking of the claimant on account of his national origin namely being English.

“The phrase used was not indicative of discrimination against English people and so the claimant could not have been discriminated against.”

R Robertson and Sons Ltd had always maintained that there was no breach of contract and that they were within their right to lawfully terminate employment with one week’s notice.

The bus company had called on the tribunal for all claims to be struck out as they had “no reasonable prospect of success”.

Ryan said he will appeal the decision.