Council worker shared golliwogs picture in racist dig at Meghan Markle

Council worker loses employment tribunal after claiming she was wrongly sacked for ‘office banterafter sharing golliwogs picture with colleagues in racist dig at Meghan Markle and comparing Serena Williams to a monkey

  • Jane Copley, 55, claimed she was just trying to fit in with the ‘usual office banter
  • Rochford District Council colleagues complained about her racist conduct
  • She claimed the complaint was actually a witch hunt designed to get her sacked
  • Her unfair dismissal claim was thrown out at an employment tribunal hearing
  • A council worker who was sacked after sharing a golliwogs picture with colleagues in a racist dig at 梅根·马克尔(Meghan Markle) before comparing Serena Williams to a monkey claimed she had been wrongly dismissed.

    Jane Copley, a 55-year-old housing support officer, claimed she was just trying to fit in with ‘usual office banterwhen she shared the image saying it was the ‘future of the 王室to her Rochford District Council colleagues in Essex.

    An employment tribunal also heard that she compared Serena Williams to a monkey by telling a ‘jokeabout the tennis star’s style of home decoration being ‘tyres and fruit’.

    Mrs Copley was sacked for gross misconduct in January 2020 following complaints from colleagues.

    然而, she subsequently sued the council for unfair dismissal, age discrimination and disability discrimination.

    An employment tribunal panel, 虽然, has dismissed her claims.

    Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle pictured with baby Archie. Housing options manager Jane Copley sent a picture of golliwogs to council colleagues claiming it to be the 'future of the Royal Family' after the Duchess announced she was pregnant, an employment tribunal was told

    Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle pictured with baby Archie. Housing options manager Jane Copley sent a picture of golliwogs to council colleagues claiming it to be the ‘future of the Royal Familyafter the Duchess announced she was pregnant, an employment tribunal was told

    Mrs Copley also compared Serena Williams to a monkey by telling a 'joke' about the tennis star's style of home decoration being 'tyres and fruit'

    Mrs Copley also compared Serena Williams to a monkey by telling a ‘jokeabout the tennis star’s style of home decoration being ‘tyres and fruit

    The hearing was told that Mrs Copley was initially employed by the council in January 1991 as a personal assistant before her role changed to housing options support officer in March 2018.

    在六月 2019, six of her colleagues raised a collective grievance after becoming ‘concerned and angryabout her behaviour, 小组听取了.

    The formal complaint included reference to claims she had shown them racist material to them at work, allegations of bullying and accusations she was undermining, manipulating and demeaning colleagues.

    The ‘drip dripeffect of her conduct was also spoiling people’s enjoyment of work or their wellbeing, the complaint added, with some saying they were losing sleep due to the atmosphere she had created.

    Mrs Copley, 虽然, described the complaint as a witch hunt designed to get her out and she believed the six staff had colluded together to create a false grievance.

    Angela Law, assistant director for Legal and Democratic at the council, investigated the complaint.

    The tribunal heard that one of the complaints centred around an incident shortly after the Duchess of Sussex had announced her pregnancy.

    Ms Law was told: ‘[Mrs Copley] had shown colleagues a picture of a group of golliwogs stating that it was the Royal Family several decades hence.

    ‘[她] also told ajokeabout Serena Williams’ minimal style of decoration being tyres and fruit, the aim was to liken her to a monkey.

    ‘Some staff were particularly offended by the material.

    Ms Law questioned the members of staff about the normal banter in the office and whether it included a racial element, but they all denied sharing such material.

    They instead claimed work ‘banterwas based around love life, family and television.

    Ms Law told Mrs Copley about the complaint on June 28, 2019.

    三天后, Mrs Copley began a lengthy sickness citing anxiety and depression. She did not return to work.

    The tribunal heard the complaint had ‘upset and triggered a significant bout of anxiety and depression’, she had been left ‘horrifiedto receive the grievance and thought it ‘portrayed her as some kind of monster’.

    In her answers, Mrs Copley admitted to sharing the racist material.

    The Duke and Duchess of Sussex pictured together. Colleagues made a formal complaint regarding Mrs Copley after she claimed a picture of golliwogs was the 'future of the Royal Family' in relation to the Duchess' pregnancy

    The Duke and Duchess of Sussex pictured together. Colleagues made a formal complaint regarding Mrs Copley after she claimed a picture of golliwogs was the ‘future of the Royal Familyin relation to the Duchess’ 怀孕

    然而, she added she was ‘doing it against her better judgement to try to join inwith ‘usual office banter’.

    She did not proceed to give any examples of racist material shared by colleagues.

    Mrs Copley filed the unfair dismissal claim because she believed the council had failed to make reasonable adjustments for her anxiety and depression.

    Employment Judge Samantha Moor dismissed her claims.

    她说: ‘It was plainly offensive conduct: sharing material that was unarguably racist. The employer could reasonably conclude that it was not ‘mild’ as [Mrs Copley] had alleged because by sharing that kind of material a racist attitude was revealed.

    ‘It was reasonable too, for the council to take into account that it served the public and expected particularly high standards of behaviour.

    ‘For this reason it had a zero tolerance approach to racism.

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