Red flag for red hair jokes?

04-07-2007

Red flag for red hair jokes?
It is being speculated that taunts and banter targeted at red-haired individuals could be the increasing focus of workplace discrimination in the UK, following a recent tribunal decision surrounding one red-haired worker.

A waitress has been awarded over £17,000 in compensation for unfair dismissal after suffering ongoing taunts over the colour of her hair and eventually being sacked from her job.

Personnel Today reports that Sarah Primmer was granted £17,618 for unfair dismissal, suggesting that cases of so-called 'gingerism' could begin to come to light with increasing frequency in the future.

Earlier this year in a poll conducted by Personnel Today over 80 per cent of respondents said that they thought it acceptable to make fun of people with red hair. The survey also found that red-haired employees are often the target of jokes in the workplace, indicative of an emerging 'lookism' culture.

Last month, Patrick O'Sullivan of the Irish Diaspora Research Unit argued that targeting redheads is an extension of workplace bullying that traditionally targets other minority groups.

"People could feel forbidden to attack their usual victims and are searching around for ones that have not yet achieved the protection of the law," he explained to the BBC.

Meanwhile Catherine Barker, employment law specialist at Pinsent Masons, argues that the practice could amount to bullying and ultimately end up in court, reports the Register.

Related categories: HR / Recruitment.


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