Written proof of racism

It has recently been brought to my attention that a member of my staff has very strong right wing views and that put in simple terms he is a racist.

 I have recieved several complaints from other staff memebers that he has offended with his views.

I have seen for myself 'Tweets' from this employee with some pretty gritty comments and suggestions of what should be done to ethnic minorities, Muslims feature the most commonly. 

This person is well under two years so from the complaints I have recieved and the tweets that I have read I plan to simply terminate his employment with appropriate notice but no specific reason offered.

I am interested to hear if anyone would do it differently? Can a leopard change its spots? Is it possible to change a person's views and is it ever appropriate to have a member of staff who publishes such strong views?

  • There have been a number of threads on this over the years. They tend to get fairly polarized very quickly between the liberal wing (where I am) which holds the view that private political views have little to do with work (unless they cross over) and largely aren't the concern of the employer and the alternative camp which holds that some views are so repugnant that the individual shouldn't be employed.

    Try this one for starters or this one both about BNP membership.

    Both worth a read to see the wider debate.

    But as you say in this case he has less than two years service. I do wonder why you do not plan to tell him why you are dismissing him however? Surely you have the courage of your convictions? Or is there a doubt in your mind?

  • Hi Emma

    I'm with Keith in wondering why you won't tell the employee why he is being dismissed. You say his views have offended other staff but you don't say that his work is inadequate. What will you say in a reference if asked why you dismissed him? If you're prepared to give racism as a reason you should really also tell him. It also seems to me a little dishonest to leave him wondering whether his work was at fault and that led to the dismissal.


  • Very strange.  

    If I employed someone who did this, I'd think it right and proper to say something to him along the lines of; "Listen pal, sending out stuff like this I don't like, nor do others at work. Please stop or you'll end up loosing your job". 


    Or is there a good reason you don't think it right and proper you tell him your views first? 

  • It is perhaps with adding here that the person in question is a security guard on a residential student campus. Working day and night shifts, he will often be in situations when he is alone with students of all types from 17 years upwards. His views expressed online coupled with a number of complaints about his comments and conduct towards others make me feel uneasy about his being alone with young people.

    There lies the dilemma...  If I'm not comfortable surely that is what the initial term is for to get to know an employee and see if they fit well with an organisation, if not we can terminate their employment... But if I addressed it with hm would he change? Or would it be time wasted all round as such strong views are surely not likely to change simply because I point out that they are offensive to others...

  • It will be only right and proper to tell this individual the reason why he is being dismissed, if indeed he will be. He needs to know that his racist views which staff find offensive is absolutely not acceptable in the workplace, and indeed in a tolerant society. He is breaking the law for starters! Dare I say, he should be warned that his actions could result in criminal proceedings bring brought against him.
  • Emma
    Address the work based behaviour. If he is doing or saying things at work then address them through your performance management/disciplinary process - that's what it is there for.
  • Agree with Keith.  However much anyone may disagree with how the individual behaves the focus here should only be on what takes place within the workplace. 
  • But Emma, I still don't know why you or no one else has spoken to him?  It is unacceptable that he behaves in this way if it effects students or staff? 

    Of course telling him stop and warning him that his refusal to comply will result in his dismissal should stop him.  It won't change his beliefs but I don't think this is the issue.


  • Thanks guys. I was looking for other viewpoints in order to balance my own, having read some of the comments myself I was personally shocked and appalled and was struggling to see past this in order to treat the matter professionally.  

  • Hi Emma

     He has a basic right, protected in law, to hold his own political and philosophical beliefs, however distasteful you personally and others may find them. This protection, though, is subject to reasonable limits, and if he's eg actually inciting racial hatred, he forfeits these rights and the protection.

    Thus, I think there's a distinction to be made between the views and beliefs he holds  (however wacky or distasteful) and how appropriately he behaves either at work or so as to affect his work whilst he's outside it. 

    It sounds as if, given the nature of  his tweets, (assuming they do involve some racial hatred or the like) that he's getting perilously close to behaviour that's likely to bring his employer into disrepute. 

     Like other colleagues as above, I'd be inclined to have a serious talk with him, pointing this out, and advise him to keep his views to himself or express them in private  and not on Twitter, where they're able to be seen by a vastly-wider audience and highly likely to risk bringing his employer into disrepute as well as potentially landing him on a criminal charge of inciting racial hatred. And of course to leave all his own views of that nature behind whilst at work. And that, as a responsible employer, you have a duty to protect as fully as possible all employers and service users against racist behaviour - or even the possibility or danger of it.

    And if he takes no notice, then you'll fire him.

     and be sure to keep safe a note of that conversation. 


  • Well stated David!
  • Hi Emma, adding to David B's wisdom you may find the employee might protest about having the right to expressing his views and other similar grumbles.  Fundamentally this is not about having the views but how they are expressed.  Without wishing to sound flippant the Drinkaware campaign springs to mind - do it but responsibly - and this is what the gentleman needs to do.  Good luck and please let us know how things progress.
  • In reply to Clare Marie:

    Hi all

    Emma has made us all aware that member's of staff find this chap's views offensive, and also she has seen the tweets from the employee which are 'pretty grim' and offensive to minority groups. So we already know that he is expressing his views publicly (through twitter) and he is NOT keeping it to himself. Why are we beating about the bush?? Surely, this is gross misconduct at the very least? 


  • Steve Bridger

    | 0 Posts

    Community Manager

    16 Oct, 2014 14:01

    In reply to David:

    I see your point, Ade... and without knowing the actual language used (which we don't want to repeat here), I think David B's post is not out of step with what you've stated above.

    From the information Emma has provided it's seems clear he is perilously close to 'that line'. David's advice seems exemplary to me.

  • Emma, I agree with the general drift of the advice given above especially from the 2 Davids.

    Looking at it more strategically you really need to start including some questions in your selection interviews based around assessing candidates values in connection with diversity issues or such problems may continue to emerge with others. 

    You absolutely must tell this guy what the problem is as you are the doing a disservice to any future employers where he may take his views. Challenging such views, even if in a mild way, may begin to get him reflecting on them and the effect they have on others as well as his own future.