AXA PPP Healthcare has been ordered to pay £142,000 in compensation to a worker who was nicknamed SpongeBob SquarePants by colleagues and mocked for her accent.
According to a report in the Daily Telegraph, Brazilian Licia Faithful said she suffered post traumatic stress disorder after co-workers recorded her voice, and played it back to her, laughing and mimicking her accent.
Staff at the medical insurance company’s claims department in Royal Tunbridge Wells referred to her as SpongeBob SquarePants, a cartoon character.
At an employment tribunal in Ashford in Kent Judge Gill Sage ruled Faithful had suffered “the most serious case of discrimination” during 18-months of racist bullying.
She ordered the company to pay out more than £140,000 in aggravated damages including £25,000 for hurt feelings.
The hearing was told Faithful was asked whether she was on drugs because she was from Brazil, had miniature Brazilian flags stolen from her desk and that she did not receive rewards from bosses while her colleagues did.
The report quotes a statement from AXA PPP Healthcare which says the firm is “disappointed” with the outcome and had already considered “areas for improvement”.
The statement says: “Treating our employees fairly is very important to us and we work hard to create a positive, supportive workplace culture where employees enjoy their working environment.”