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Boots pharmacist claim of harassment related to race

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A recent employment tribunal has affirmed a pharmacist’s allegation of racial harassment during his employment at Boots, especifically citing an incident that occurred in July 2020

An employment tribunal has ruled in favour of a pharmacist, Samson Famojuro, who claimed he faced racial harassment during his tenure at Boots pharmacy.

The decision comes after a five-day hearing earlier this year, where the tribunal found that Famojuro, of Nigerian origin and working as the Responsible Pharmacist at Boots’ Silva Island Way branch in Wickford, Essex, was subjected to race-related treatment by pre-registration pharmacy technician Emma Walker in July 2020.

The tribunal criticized the “inconsistent and untruthful evidence” presented by Walker and pharmacy adviser Nicole Daley during the proceedings.

It suggested that their “repeated allegations of aggression” against Famojuro could lead to the conclusion that they were stereotyping him “as an aggressive black man when all he was doing was seeking to assert his authority.”

While the tribunal dismissed some claims of harassment and direct race discrimination, it upheld Famojuro’s claim for unfair constructive dismissal.

The incident occurred on July 18, 2020, when Walker and Daley, both in junior positions to Famojuro, allegedly undermined his authority as the Responsible Pharmacist.

Famojuro requested assistance with filing bagged items and prescriptions, but tensions arose when Daley refused, insisting filing was solely the responsibility of the pharmacist. Further disputes emerged when Famojuro realized labelling errors on bags, and Daley refused to correct them.

Subsequent events, including handling a prescription for an Asian patient and a confrontation in the staff room, led to Famojuro feeling undermined and unsafe.

The tribunal noted inconsistencies and untruths in Walker and Daley’s evidence, highlighting their cooperation on statements and a tendency to make fresh allegations when flaws were pointed out.

The pharmacist was eventually asked to leave by Walker, supported by branch manager Amy Munson, who reportedly did not investigate the situation thoroughly.

The tribunal concluded that Walker, Daley, and Munson “escalated the situation” to the point where they turned against Famojuro.

It expressed concern over the “inconsistent and untruthful evidence,” suggesting racial stereotyping by Walker and Daley. Boots’ investigation into the allegations was criticized for not adequately exploring whether race played a role.

Boots responded to the ruling, stating, “At Boots, we stand firmly against workplace harassment of any kind. We are reviewing the court’s findings and will reflect and take action on any learnings.”

The tribunal’s decision sheds light on the importance of thorough workplace investigations and the potential consequences of racial stereotyping in professional settings.

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