Michael Corbett, a Northern Irishman who was bullied for being Irish while employed in Christchurch, New Zealand, has been awarded US$10,500 from Employment Relations Authority for his abuse.
The Press reports that Corbett was victim of vicious name-calling while employed by UDP Shopfitters Ltd for about three months in 2011. David Appleton, member of the ERA, said that the treatment Corbett encountered fell outside the boundaries of “acceptable banter.”
“It is my view that calling Mr Corbett a thieving Irish b......, referring to him as f...... Irish and calling him a dumb Irish b..... are examples of hostility and bringing him into contempt and ridicule on the grounds of his national origins," said Appleton.
Corbett did reportedly bring the matter to Bryan Hicks, owner of UDP Shopfitters, who failed to do anything about the situation citing that he did not want to bother the men who had been working long hours.
Hicks’ lack of appropriate response to the situation was deemed to have a "detrimental effect" on Corbett’s work experience.
“I accept Mr Corbett's evidence that Mr Hicks downplayed the incident,'' Appleton said.
Appleton added, ''I believe the respondent did not take the complaint of assault by Mr Corbett seriously and that this failure caused a disadvantage in Mr Corbett's employment as it caused him to believe that no action was going to be taken by his employer.”
It was ultimately ruled that while Corbett was not actively dismissed from his job at UDP Shopfitters, the company had constructively dismissed Corbett by its "actions and failures".
Corbett was awarded a total of $10,500 USD - about $8,000 for Corbett’s humiliation, and $2,500 for lost wages.