A black manager at HS2 sued for discrimination after claiming her boss was being racist when using the phrase ‘whiter than white’.
Sharon Goodison complained that her boss’s use of the common expression was offensive because it implied ‘white is good, black is bad’.
She told an employment tribunal the phrase – dating back to Shakespearean times – has had ‘racial connotations throughout my life’.
Mrs Goodison even warned manager Laura Day that a police officer had been disciplined for saying it, leading to her apologising for any offence caused.
The tribunal has now dismissed the discrimination claim, ruling that Ms Day’s use of the expression was not related to race but was an ‘apposite’ comment about the HS2 company’s behaviour.
However, the company was found to have forced her out of her job by taking too long to investigate her complaints.
‘Whiter than white’ is believed to originate from Shakespeare’s poem Venus and Adonis and over time has become defined as being pure or honest.
The Oxford English Dictionary notes that it became a popular term following the 1920s advertising slogan for Persil washing powder.
The tribunal in central London was told that compliance manager Mrs Goodison worked for the high speed rail company from April 2017 until August 2021.
However, she was unhappy in her role, comparing it to being with ‘an abusive boyfriend’ who had ‘bullied, disrespected, racially discriminated, disrespected, and disempowered me’.
Read More: Black HS2 manager sues for discrimination saying her boss was being racist when she used the phrase ‘whiter than white’