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Unfair dismissal €6,500 awarded to worker sacked after posting video with 'N' word in Teams group

Jevgeni Rykov, who was employed as a technician at Equinix Ireland Enterprises, lost his job last year after posting the YouTube video

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A worker was sacked for posting an allegedly racist video on an internal Microsoft Teams group during the pandemic that "used the 'N' word repeatedly".

Jevgeni Rykov, who was employed as a technician at Equinix Ireland Enterprises, lost his job last year after posting the YouTube video.

However, the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) has awarded him €6,500 after finding the decision to dismiss him was unfair.

Mr Rykov posted a link to the video on an informal group platform called SuperHappyFunTime in June last year.

The group was set up by his team manager to encourage members of the team to have fun while they worked on-site during the pandemic.

A manager referred to as Mr B told the hearing the video used the 'N' word repeatedly and referred to ethnic minorities. He said it was derogatory and the use of the 'N' word was totally unacceptable.

The manager accepted the video stated at the beginning it was a parody, but said it was the worst he had seen on any platform and offensive at a sensitive time for the black community.

Mr Rykov was asked to remove the video after being told it was offensive, which he did. He was suspended pending an investigation and was later dismissed from his job at the data centre.

Mr Rykov said the video that was made by an Israeli-American comedian has been available since December 2013 and had more than 6.5 million views. He said at the investigation meeting that he made it clear he viewed it as a joke and it begins with the words: "This is jokes, not for kids."

Mr Rykov, a Lithuanian national, said he comes from a different society and the video for him was only a joke.

He argued the sanction of dismissal was disproportionate and the appeals process was flawed as there was no hearing, but a "paper review".

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His employer denied he was unfairly dismissed.

It said a decision was made to dismiss him for gross misconduct, and an appeal officer later carried out a review of the papers and upheld the decision to dismiss.

WRC adjudication officer John Harraghy found it was not unreasonable for his employer to dismiss him.

However, he found the process followed in reaching that decision was flawed and unfair.

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