The Free Speech Union has won its biggest ever legal victory at the Employment Tribunal, securing significant damages for Carl Borg-Neal, a dyslexic Lloyds bank manager who was sacked following a workplace free speech row. The Telegraph has more.
Carl Borg-Neal can’t get out his words. Tears fall down his cheeks and he is overcome by an involuntary verbal tic, as if he is choking or has momentarily forgotten how to speak. He is 59 years old and out of work, having been sacked by his employer, Lloyds Bank, for inadvertently blurting out the N word during an anti-racism training session.
An employment tribunal ruled that Lloyds had unfairly dismissed Mr Borg-Neal and discriminated against him on account of his dyslexia, which leads him to “spurt things out before he loses his train of thought”. He has been awarded damages of almost £500,000 – combined with Lloyds’ legal costs, and tax, the bank faces a bill close to £1 million.
The cash is of some comfort to Mr Borg-Neal, a vindication of his campaign to clear his name. What he really wanted, however, was his old job back and he wishes the bank would simply say sorry for sacking him. Without the apology, the allegation that he is racist hangs over his head.
“It is kind of a double-edged sword. When I set out on this legal claim, I said to my mum: ‘If I have to sell my house, I don’t care because this is about clearing my name. Lloyds were calling me racist and that is certainly something I am not and something I have never been,” said Mr Borg-Neal, who is also a Conservative councillor in his local borough council in Andover, Hants.
After a career spanning 30 years with Lloyds and its affiliates, Mr Borg-Neal believes that the bank has treated him like a “pariah” – he was told not to contact former colleagues and friends in the aftermath of that fateful training session on July 16 2021. It has taken Mr Borg-Neal more than two years to win his compensation through a courtroom ordeal that, at one stage, risked him facing financial ruin.
“I feel very discriminated against,” he said. “I often wonder if I wasn’t a white middle-aged male would I have had to go through everything I went through. There is no way of telling. But when I talk to my friends – and as you can imagine a good many are white, middle-aged and male – we all agree that is the worst thing you can be right now. You are bottom of everything.”
The employment tribunal vindicated Mr Borg-Neal in a 46-page judgment that raises serious questions about how major institutions such as Lloyds Bank tackle “very sensitive issues” that arise during diversity training.
It was about an hour into the online training session – attended virtually by about 100 Lloyds managers – during a discussion about “intent vs effect” that Mr Borg-Neal asked how to handle a situation should he hear someone from an ethnic minority use a word that would be offensive if used by someone not of the same ethnicity. When the trainer did not appear to understand the question, Mr Borg-Neal said by way of explanation: “The most common example being [the] use of the N word in the black community.”