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Employment Law

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26 FEB 2016

Kelly v Covance Laboratories Ltd UKEAT/0186/15; (2016) EMPLR 003

Kelly v Covance Laboratories Ltd UKEAT/0186/15; (2016) EMPLR 003
20 October 2015

Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT)

Her Honour Judge Eady QC

Instructing an employee not to speak in their native language but only to speak in English while at work can amount to direct race discrimination if the reason for the instruction is the employee’s race; but not if the reason is unconnected with race.

K was instructed by her manager not to speak in her native Russian on her mobile phone. Her behaviour, including the amount of time she spent on her phone and the fact that she spoke in Russian, led her employers, an animal testing laboratory, to suspect she was an animal rights infiltrator. The employment tribunal, upheld by the EAT, held this was a valid reason for the instruction and she was not being treated less favourably because of her race. Contrast the case of Dziedziak v Future Electronics Limited (UKEAT/0271/11), where the employer could offer no non-discriminatory explanation of why an employee was instructed not to speak in her native language and so was found to have discriminated against that employee.
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