Johnson & Johnson’s senior manager who faced racial profiling has won her discrimination case.
In 2018, senior manager, Tolulope Fayokun was given an upsetting document by her manager, Alessandra Toro that implied that she was lazy in her job. After filing her discrimination case, Mrs Fayokun was dismissed due to repeated absences. She is now due for compensation for her racial profiling case.
Racial Profiling at J&J
The dispute unfolded when Mrs Fayokun, a dual British and Nigerian national, received a document outlining purported ‘Nigerian traits’ attributed to her by her boss. Mrs Toro’s research into Nigerian workplaces led her to make problematic comments, asserting that Mrs Fayokun operated on ‘African time,’ implying a perceived lack of punctuality.
The tribunal further revealed that Mrs Toro had expressed differences in their working styles, characterising the Nigerian approach as ‘fluid’ compared to her own ‘fixed’ preferences.
This racial profiling case then took a turn. As Mrs Fayokun faced dismissal in early 2020, she took legal action against the company, alleging racial discrimination. Employment Judge Andrew Gumbiti-Zimuto ruled in her favour, stating that the profiling exercise had unfairly associated Mrs Fayokun with lazy stereotypes, such as references to ‘African time,’ causing her distress.
During the hearing for this racial profiling case, Mrs. Fayokun recounted her growing workload and feeling overwhelmed, leading to strained relations with Mrs. Toro. The document presented during their meeting, described by Mrs. Fayokun as a ‘racially profiling document,’ marked a turning point, leading to the breakdown of their professional relationship.
While Mrs Toro defended her actions, claiming to have shared a ‘cultural fluency’ report to bridge communication gaps, the tribunal found that Mrs Fayokun had reasonable grounds to feel disadvantaged by the profiling exercise actively used to manage her.
The compensation for Mrs Fayokun’s racial profiling case will be determined in a subsequent hearing. The tribunal dismissed additional claims of unfair dismissal, victimization, harassment, religious discrimination, and further racial discrimination.
What To Do If I’m Being Racially Profiled at Work?
Discovering racial discrimination and racial profiling at your workplace can be distressing, but taking swift action is crucial. Any form of racist behaviour is against the law, including direct discrimination, indirect discrimination, racial harassment, or victimisation.
For a comprehensive guide on race discrimination and racial profiling in the workplace, head to the Redmans Solicitors guide here.
Here are steps you can take if you find yourself in such a situation.
- Know Your Policies:
Start by acquainting yourself with your employer’s equal opportunities and anti-bullying/harassment policies. Every responsible employer should maintain a zero-tolerance stance against racial discrimination and racial profiling. If these policies aren’t in place, request them and ensure they align with the necessary standards.
- Keep Records:
Document any offensive incidents meticulously. Note down who was involved, and when it happened, and gather evidence like offensive messages or social media posts. If you’re part of a trade union, consult your union representative—they can play a vital role in addressing wider issues within the organisation.
- Address Directly:
Consider addressing the issue directly with those involved. Explain how their behaviour is affecting you. If this proves unsuccessful or uncomfortable, escalate the matter to a higher authority within the company. Make a formal complaint and maintain a record of your grievance.
- Serious Investigation:
Your employer is obligated to take your complaint seriously. They should conduct a prompt and thorough investigation, including interviews with perpetrators and witnesses. Disciplinary actions may range from formal warnings to dismissal based on the severity of the issue.
- Equality and Human Rights Commission Guidance:
Refer to the 2020 guidance from the Equality and Human Rights Commission. Encourage your employer to develop policies in consultation with trade unions, maintain detailed records, and conduct staff surveys to identify potential issues.
- Legal Considerations:
If you’re contemplating an employment tribunal claim, follow the grievance procedure first. Submit an Early Conciliation Notification Form to Acas. Seek advice early in the process, as discrimination law is intricate. Professional guidance is essential for navigating the complexities of your case. Contact our expert employment lawyers at Redmans Solicitors for more guidance.
Conclusion: Eliminating Racial Profiling
Racial profiling and discrimination should not have a place in the workplace. As we’re all striving towards more diverse, inclusive and equal workplaces, cases like this must be acted on promptly and effectively.