Three Basingstoke employees racially harassed their Sikh colleague - causing him to quit, an employment tribunal has heard. 

Glyn Smith, Stuart Smith and John Cleary were found to have bullied 36-year-old Kieran Sidhu when they worked together at tech firm Exertis, based in Chineham Business Park.

The tribunal found that manager Matthew Rumsey showed "little interest" in Mr Sidhu's complaints of bullying and was more interesd in sales targets. 

The panel at the Southampton hearing was told how British-born Mr Sidhu, who is of Scottish and Indian descent, endured bullying workmates branding him the “only ethnic on the team” and a “temperamental Syrian immigrant” who was “f***ing for ISIS”.

His team falsely accused him of being gay; simulated sex acts with bananas; made lewd remarks about sausages; and tried to make him put on women's lingerie in the office.

A colleague located his Basingstoke home on Google Maps and likened his neighbourhood to war-torn Aleppo in Syria.

And he offered Mr Sidhu's car for sale on website and taunted him that it was only worth £100.

Basingstoke Gazette: Kieran Sidhu Kieran Sidhu

Co-workers encouraged him to spend £180 on a tuxedo for a last-minute 'black tie' work event that they knew was, in fact, 'smart casual'.

And they routinely sang variants of 'Sidhu, Sidhu, he has a bomb in his shoe, he works at O2, he is a f***ing dirty Arab'.

Mr Sidhu quit his job in the firm's Basingstoke office in May 2017 suffering from extreme depression and anxiety.

The lasting psychological harm he suffered was so bad that he is “unlikely” ever to work again, according to a psychiatrist who assessed him.

The tribunal found that “crude sexual innuendo and express sexual reference” were considered “entertaining banter” at the male-orientated workplace.

Mr Sidhu told how his team repeatedly taped McDonald's adverts and a spoof male escort business card to his monitor, saying it was what he would be doing once he was sacked.

The card was headed 'Manwhore2door' and stated 'Have c**k will travel...No fatties, No Gingers, Threesomes welcome...all holes filled or your money back'.

Glynn Smith referred to Mr Sidhu as “f***ing for ISIS” and circulated a photo of a bikini-clad woman, said to be 'Kieran's replacement'.

His team would put Mr Sidhu's laptop in the bin; hide his mouse and chair in different locations around the office; and stand to applaud whenever he arrived at work late. He said: “They thought this was funny but it was embarrassing and disruptive for me.”

On one humiliating occasion, his colleagues all nodded when he suggested that a work event he had been invited to at the last minute could be black tie.

Basingstoke Gazette: John ClearyJohn Cleary

He rushed out and, to their amusement, returned with a £180 tuxedo, whereupon one emailed him, copying in others, saying: 'Kieran, spot the fatal dress code error...' and highlighting the dress code, which was 'smart (not black-tie)'.

Mr Cleary would deep-throat peeled bananas, saying: 'Kieran, you know what time it is. You know you want some, talk dirty to me bitch' and 'You must be so hard right now. That's why you won't stand up'.

Glynn Smith looked up Mr Sidhu's house on Google Maps and declared he lived in a "sh*t area that looks like a terrorist war zone”, adding: “What's that place called, Aleppo?"

He also branded Mr Sidhu's car the “sh*ttest on the team”, typed its registration into and told him they were only offering £100.

Mr Cleary would accuse Mr Sidhu of using gay dating app Grindr and tried to force him to wear lingerie on the sales floor.

Stuart Smith would ask Mr Sidhu 'Did you get much sausage last night?', 'How big is your sausage?' and 'Do you have sausages in Syria?'

Basingstoke Gazette: Manager Matthew RumseyManager Matthew Rumsey

Colleagues taped pictures of sausages to Mr Sidhu's monitor and left post-it notes saying 'gay boy' and a straw hat on his desk saying 'I love d*ck'.

One asked Mr Sidhu how it felt to be the “only ethnic on the team” and Glynn Smith said: 'You will be the last ethnic if you are anything to go by'.

Mr Cleary also sent a team email, suggesting that Mr Sidhu have sex with him in a car park after their work Christmas dinner.

Mr Sidhu told his manager: “When John’s deep-throating bananas and they’re Googling my name going 'You live in a terrorist area' and all this nonsense, that’s draining... for me mentally I’m thinking, where have I gone wrong?...

“Once is a joke, twice is a joke...there hasn’t been once in three days where that hasn’t happened.”

Basingstoke Gazette: Stuart SmithStuart Smith

He reported a colleague for accepting “entertainment” in the form of weekend strip club visits and routinely showing Mr Sidhu the middle finger and telling him 'f*** your mum'.

The tribunal found that manager Matthew Rumsey showed “little interest” in Mr Sidhu's complaints of bullying, caring far more about the team's sales targets.

Instead, Mr Rumsey, who was even copied in by colleagues on several of the emails humiliating Mr Sidhu, took client accounts off him and tried to force him out of the firm “because he did not fit with the team”, the tribunal ruled.

After assessing Mr Sidhu, psychiatrist Dr Jonathan Ornstein concluded he has a “very low chance of recovery” and is “unlikely to be able to work again”.

Mr Sidhu's solicitor Lawrence Davies said: “The size of my client's compensation claim reflects not only the gravity of the ordeal he suffered but the psychiatric assessment that, in all probability, his career is over.”

Exertis is owned by Dublin-based firm DCC plc.

In a statement, Exertis said Mr Sidhu's experience was a “unique case across a business of more than 1,800 employees.”

It said it had taken “appropriate disciplinary action”, adding: “On this occasion it was clear that certain behaviours within a part of our business fell short of the standards we expect.”

Last year, the Royal Bank of Scotland was last year ordered to pay a 31-year-old NatWest worker, known only as AB, for harassment and disability discrimination.

She was badly injured when she was hit by a car on her first day of work and the bank's shoddy treatment of her left her needing round-the-clock psychiatric care.

  • Being discriminated against at work is against the law. For free advice, contact Basingstokes Citizen's Advice Bureau on 0800 144 8848 or visit the government's website here