Meanwhile in England…. Pot plants are now racist

Council worker who sued for racial harrassment after overgrown desk pot plant ‘prevented him from talking to colleagues’ WINS his case – leaving taxpayers with more than £50,000 bill:

council worker who claimed to have suffered racial harassment after he was ‘segregated’ from colleagues by an overgrown office pot plant has won his legal battle.

Benyam Kenbata complained he was racially segregated and suffered discrimination because a Westminster council colleague’s desk plant blocked his view.

The 34-year-old started a two-year legal battle after complaining it ‘restricted the ease with which he could hold discussions with colleagues’.

Mr Kenbata has successfully sued his employer for racial harassment after the row started in his workplace in 2013, according to the Evening Standard.

‘I genuinely believed I was being unlawfully discriminated against,’ he said. 

‘Working day in, day out with colleagues not effectively communicating with you about work for no apparent good reason is really difficult.’

Support officer Zinnie Denby-Mann placed the plant on her desk, opposite capital programme manager Mr Kenbata, who complained to his boss months later.

The council’s human resources department said the problem with the plant was that it has ‘grown too high’, denying any racial connotations.

But in 2015 Mr Kenbata reported approached the London Central Employment Tribunal to make 29 allegations of direct discrimination, racial harassment and victimisation.

The body ruled against Mr Kenbata, stating it was ‘quite satisfied that the positioning of the plant and its growth was not an act of direct discrimination nor harassment’.

Mr Kenbata was said to have ‘acted in bad faith in making the race discrimination complaint arising from the existence of the overgrown pot plant’ and ordered to pay £10,000 costs.

The tribunal backed him on only one count, ruling that he had been victimised in an open-plan office discussion about the plant that should been conducted confidentially.

When Mr Kenbata appealed, a judge called for the case to be re-examined, which this week led to the tribunal adjusting its findings after ruling his complaint ‘was not an act of mischief after all’ and finding ‘the discussion in the open-plan office was racial harassment’.

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