The ex-Lloyds Banking Group Plc manager who won his unfair dismissal case over his use of a racist slur is seeking around £1.2 million ($1.5 million) after accepting he could never get his job back at the lender.
(Bloomberg) — The ex-Lloyds Banking Group Plc manager who won his unfair dismissal case over his use of a racist slur is seeking around £1.2 million ($1.5 million) after accepting he could never get his job back at the lender.
Carl Borg-Neal was fired for using the N-word during an anti-racism training session, London judges ruled in August. The veteran employee who suffers from dyslexia said in a legal filing for a tribunal hearing on Thursday that he was “hunted” by Lloyds’ human resources and executives whose investigation meant “the conclusion was inevitable.”
The payments manager apologized immediately after using the full slur during a discussion about the impact of language at an online race education training course attended by about 100 of the bank’s line managers. Lloyds managers themselves accepted that he acted without malice. The judges said in their earlier decision that Borg-Neal’s dyslexia can lead to him blurting thoughts out, which likely meant that he used the full word rather than finding a way to avoid it.
The UK’s largest employers are increasingly at the front line of a cultural tug-of-war with Lloyds’ rival NatWest Group Plc facing criticism for shutting down the bank account of Brexit campaigner and talk show host Nigel Farage on personal and political grounds.
In addition to unfair dismissal, Borg-Neal won a ruling that he was discriminated against on the basis of his disability. While claims for unfair dismissal are usually capped at a payout of around £100,000, damages are unlimited if discrimination is proved.
Lloyds said that it has appealed certain aspects of the ruling, meaning any award is unlikely to be paid out soon. The £1.2 million figure is calculated by Borg-Neal and his lawyers.
At a hearing to decide the size of the compensation, the bank’s lawyers rejected arguments that it acted in an oppressive way in this “very fraught and high profile litigation.”
Borg-Neal, a longstanding employee who first joined Lloyds in 1993, said he would have taken a pay cut or accepted a demotion after the incident. “I would have done anything,” he said, “to clear my name of something that happened by accident and for which I was incredibly sorry.”
Lloyds went too far with the firing, the judges said in their ruling from the summer, saying that executives could have simply given him a warning if they’d wanted to make a point.
Borg-Neal’s lawyers said that the bank was now “doubling down against a disabled and vulnerable neurodiverse individual against whom it has been found to have discriminated.”
The 59-year-old, who also serves as a local government councillor, said he thought it unlikely that he’d be able to get another job in the financial sector. He said his knowledge of the payments industry had lapsed while he’d been out of work.
At a this week’s hearing, Borg-Neal said he’d withdrawn his attempt to be reinstated at the bank, an option open to claimants in unfair dismissal and discrimination cases.
“I was very sad as this did mark the end of any hope I had of returning to a job I loved. It felt very final.”
(Updates with comment from Borg-Neal’s lawyers in 10th paragraph.)
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