‘Street Talk’ can still be Discriminatory

‘Street Talk’ can still be Discriminatory

  • Date: Monday 27th June 2016

A man was recently dismissed for using an offensive racist term after a colleague reported him to his manager. Filing for unfair dismissal, he argued that the term had been used in a non racist way, simply adopting street language that was common where he lived. He claimed that dismissal had been a disproportionate sanction. The tribunal disagreed with the claimant and dismissed the case, stating that, although it may be acceptable for street terms to be used in certain circumstances, the way in which the language was applied was offensive to co-workers and therefore a gross breach of conduct.


This case shows how important it is to educate workers on equality and diversity and the impact language and culture differences can have on the workplace. If the use of ‘street talk’ or inappropriate banter is a common feature in your organisation, we strongly recommend addressing this appropriately and making employees understand what it and isn’t acceptable.


Source: Manuela Grossmann, SSG


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