Send us your pictures, video, news and views by texting DST to 80360 or email us
Manager would have faced "fierce" action
THE boss of a North-East car dealership told a tribunal yesterday he would have taken strong action if he had known a manager had used racially unacceptable language towards a former salesman.
Alasdair MacConachie, managing director of Sherwoods Motor Group, said Christopher Shutt, a general manager at the company’s Stockton branch, would have been fiercely reprimanded if he had known about alleged racial abuse towards Nathan Haslam, 31.
There is no suggestion that Mr MacConachie, OBE, did anything to the detriment of Mr Haslam. Mr Shutt, however, has admitted using racial language but denied being a racist.
Mr Haslam has also alleged he was overlooked for jobs by the Vauxhall dealership because of his skin colour.
The company claims Mr Haslam, of Stokesley, made up the case when he was sacked for allegedly stealing approximately £5,000 from a car sale in December 2010.
Criminal proceedings were later dropped.
Mr MacConachie told an employment tribunal that staff engaged in humour, but admitted language towards Mr Haslam had been unacceptable.
Mr MacConachie, Vice-Lord Lieutenant of County Durham, said: “Salesmen are extroverts and lively in conversation, and they bounce off each other with mickey-taking which can, on occasions, get close to the knuckle. The relationship between Mr Shutt and Mr Haslam was a good one, but if I had heard the language, Mr Shutt would have been fiercely reprimanded.
We all loved Nathan because he was a good chap.”
The tribunal previously heard Mr Haslam, who had received wage advances from Mr MacConachie, filmed Mr Shutt calling him derogatory names, and that his computer screensaver had been defaced with the name Nathan written next to a black footballer.
Mr Haslam said: “I endured name-calling in my childhood, but I didn’t expect to encounter it in the workplace.
“This tribunal is about getting justice because Mr Shutt, who denied calling me names, then changed his story.
“Without the videos the company would have totally denied this ever happened.”
However, Andrew Twineham, representing Sherwoods, said: “The behaviour did not violate his dignity or create an intimidating atmosphere and they are playing to the camera with Mr Haslam laughing.
“There was evidence to suggest Mr Haslam was taking money from the company, the videos were not taken to create an insurance policy, but in due course they have become that in his mind.
“Mr Haslam was not management material, he was good salesman, but nothing beyond that.”
The tribunal continues.