Somali cleaner wins racism tribunal claim after being called 'cheeky monkey' by colleague

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London, UK, May 31, 2020, High Street Branch Of Nationwide Building Society, directors Of The Company Think customers Missing Payments On Mortages Should Be Black Listed
The racism and harassment took place while Faisal Abdi worked as a cleaner with Susan Standing at a branch of Nationwide in Cardiff (Getty)

A Somalian cleaner who was called a "golliwog" and "cheeky monkey" by a white colleague has won an employment tribunal that ruled his suffered discrimination and harassment.

Susan Standing was ruled to have made the comments to Faisal Abdi, 38, while he was working as a cleaner for a company used by Nationwide Building Society.

An employment tribunal at Cardiff Magistrates Court concluded Standing told Abdi he resembled a "golliwog" in October or November 2019, then in July the following year branded him a "cheeky monkey".

Abdi had accused Standing of using the phrase "cheeky monkey" during a disagreement at work.

When the Somali national complained, his bosses told him she may have used it as a "term of endearment" and he should "appreciate there are cultural differences in language".

However, the tribunal ruled that while the phrase "cheeky monkey" might be "affectionately" used towards a young child by an older relative, a white employee saying it to a black person amounted to a racial slur.

Abdi is now in line for compensation after successfully suing his employers for discrimination and harassment.

Cardiff magistrates court, Cardiff, Wales. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday September, 30, 2016. Photo credit should read: Ben Birchall/PA Wire (Photo by Ben Birchall/PA Images via Getty Images)
A tribunal at Cardiff magistrates court found that Susan Standing made racist comments to Faisal Abdi while they worked as cleaners in the city (Getty)

The tribunal heard he began working for services firm TC Facilities Management in December 2018, and he was employed alongside Standing to clean one of the Welsh capital's branches of the Nationwide building society.

In July 2020 Adbi was accused of fraudulently claiming to have worked more hours than he had, the hearing was told.

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The following week Standing also accused him of talking to her in a threatening manner and he was suspended.

Protesting the suspension, Abdi submitted a grievance in which he accused Standing of being "hostile" towards him by calling him "lazy" and telling him "you are being watched" and "they want to get rid of you".

He claimed she had been following him, giving him "dirty looks" and had called him a "lazy, cheeky monkey".

The tribunal also heard Abdi complained of a "micro aggression" in the autumn of 2019 when Standing told him he "looked like a golliwog".

In October 2020 Abdi was sacked for fraudulently claiming hours, but when he appealed the decision was told he could come back to his job provided he underwent mediation with Standing.