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Coffin Mews Employment News No34 June11pub.pdf

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					Coffin Mew’s Employment News | June 2011 | Issue 34




                                                                                                        employment news
It’s news, but not as
we know it...
                                                                    the world at the moment (?),
                                                                    the newspapers have been
                                                                    able to dedicate several
                                                                    trillion words to an in depth
                                                                    analysis of this catastrophic
                                                                    event. It would appear that
                                                                    the general consensus
                                                                    behind her removal is the fear
                                                                    that the US viewers would
                                                                    not be able to understand her
                                                                    Geordie accent.

                                                                    I understand that the UK
Customer: "I've been ringing 0700 2300 for two days and can't get   government has carried out a
through to enquiries, can you help?"                                retaliatory expulsion of David
Call Centre Operator: "Where did you get that number from, sir?"    Hasselhoff in response.
Customer: "It was on the door to the Travel Centre.”
Call Centre Operator: "Sir, they are our opening hours".            So, are employers vulnerable
                                               Genuine Transcript   in the UK if they don’t recruit
                                                                    or dismiss employees
                                                                    because of their accents?
Welcome                           brunt of my angst and
                                                                    Howay man – let’s ‘ave a look
It’s been a tough week in         uncertainty and despite her
                                                                    pet.
Tibble Towers ladies and          best efforts, I just cannot
gentlemen. I feel that over the   come to terms with one of
                                                                    The Legal Bit
months, we have got to know       the biggest, most challenging
                                                                    Unsurprisingly, accent-related
each other well enough that I     and inexplicable questions
                                                                    employment claims have
can share a few personal          that I have ever faced in my
                                                                    usually involved claims of
issues with you now….             life……. How could the
                                                                    discrimination on the
                                  Americans have kicked Cheryl
                                                                    grounds of race or nationality.
I have to confess that I          Cole off the US version of The
                                                                    Over the years, there have not
haven’t been sleeping very        X Factor???
                                                                    been many cases that have
well. Something has been
                                                                    actually been argued in court.
playing on my mind, to the        Oh, the travesty of it all. I’m
extent that even when I do        surprised that Messrs Clegg
                                                                    In 2006, the Employment
get to sleep, it’s not long       and Cameron haven’t
                                                                    Appeal Tribunal considered
before I’m awake again and        declared a national day of
                                                                    this issue in the case of
pacing around the bedroom.        mourning. Thankfully,
                                                                    Hundal v Initial Security Ltd. In
I’m afraid that the current Mrs   because nothing else of any
                                                                    this case, Mr Hundal was
Tibble has been taking the        importance is happening in
                                                                    employed on the night shift
                                                                                                                                       am sure that if the legislators
Coffin Mew’s Employment News                                                                                                           have anything to do about it,
                                                                                                                                       the Geordie Discrimination

It’s news, but not as we know it...                                                                                                    Regulations will be just
                                                                                                                                       around the corner.

and part of his role included      speaking English. Had the            have been possible to argue                                    Anyway, I’m off to Heathrow
answering telephone calls          claimant been from                   that a clearly understandable                                  to wave goodbye to Mr
from colleagues or customers.      Newcastle or Norway and              accent was a necessary                                         Hasselhoff.
His employer ultimately            exhibited the same difficulties      requirement.
decided to move Mr Hundal          in verbal communication as                                                                          Until next week.
to the day shift (where there      the claimant the Tribunal are        As an aside.....
was less of a need to deal         satisfied the outcome would          So, for those of you who                                       Darren
with telephone calls) because      have been the same.”                 haven’t fast-forwarded to this
they believed that he had                                               bit and read the legal stuff
such a strong Indian accent        As such, the Tribunal                above (I know you do it –
that many people could not         accepted that the treatment          shame on you) you will see
understand what he was             of Mr Hundal was not on the          that there is a risk of being on                                To contact one of our
                                                                                                                                        employment team please call or
saying. Mr Hundal alleged          ground of his race.                  the receiving end of a race
                                                                                                                                        email:
that he had been                                                        discrimination claim for
discriminated against on the       In 2007, there was a                 mistreatment of an employee                                                           Dorlee Monschau,
grounds of his race and            contrasting case to Hundal, in       or prospective employee                                                               Partner
ethnic origin.                     the case of Meshram v Talk           because of their accent, if it                                                        023 9236 6018
                                   Talk. In this case, Mr Meshram       can be linked to their
                                                                                                                                        dorleemonschau@coffinmew.co.uk
In this case, the employer         was a British Asian who was          particular race, nationality or
successfully defended the          born in India. He lived in           ethnic origin.                                                                        Darren Tibble,
claim because they showed          Northampton and had                                                                                                        Partner
that its treatment of Mr           spoken English since the age         Therefore, it would seem that                                                         023 8057 4349
Hundal was entirely due to         of two.                              employees with accents from
his difficulty in speaking                                              Newcastle, Birmingham and                                       darrentibble@coffinmew.co.uk

English clearly. In the tribunal   As part of his job, he was sent      Liverpool etc are unlikely to
                                                                                                                                                              Charlie Barnes,
decision the judge said that       to India to train Talk Talk’s call   be protected, as they are                                                             Solicitor
the problem was in relation        centre staff over there.             regional accents, as opposed                                                          023 9236 9522
to Mr Hundal’s “ability to         However, he was returned to          to accents that are linked to a
communicate and enunciate          England after only two weeks         particular nationality or ethnic                                charlesbarnes@coffinmew.co.uk
clearly, which is more than        in his new post because his          background.
                                                                                                                                                              Tabytha
simply a standard of English”.     accent “wasn’t English
                                                                                                                                                              Cunningham,
They went on to say that a         enough”, even though his             As such, I am afraid that Ms                                                          Solicitor
lack of clarity in verbal          role was only to provide             Cole may not have her day in                                                          023 8057 4343
communication could result         technical advice and not to          court this time. I know – it’s a
from a heavy accent                give advice on how to                miscarriage of justice, but I                                   tabythacunningham@coffinmew.co.uk

regardless of an individual’s      communicate.
ethnic background.                 Understandably, in this case,
                                   Mr Meshram won his claim of
The Tribunal said:                 race discrimination because
                                   the role did not involve an
“A Glaswegian or Newcastle         absolute necessity to be able
accent can be as                   to ‘clearly’ communicate with
impenetrable as a French or        customers and colleagues, as
Norwegian accent, but it is        in the Hundal case above.
possible for an individual to      However, if Mr Meshram had            Southampton                                            North Harbour Portsmouth
                                                                         Kings Park House, 22 Kings Park Rd                     Bay House, Compass Road,
alter their enunciation            been sent to India to train the       Southampton SO15 2UF                                   North Harbour Business Park
regardless of their Ethnic         call centre staff in how to                                                                  Portsmouth PO6 4RS
                                                                         Tel: 023 8033 4661                                     Tel: 023 9238 8021
background to ensure they          communicate with English-
                                                                         www.coffinmew.co.uk                                    Offices also in Fareham & Gosport
can be understood when             speaking customers, it might
                                                                         Coffin Mew LLP is a limited liability partnership registered in England and Wales
                                                                         (registered number OC 323868) which is regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. Lexcel Accredited

				
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