Want to talk to an expert employment law solicitor?

You'll receive a callback from a specialist within an hour

In the case of Lewis v Network Rail Infrastructure Ltd – ET3300540/2019 the Employment Tribunal held that the failure to investigate an allegation that one colleague had called another a “fucking disgusting wog” amounted to race-related harassment.

The facts in Lancelot Lewis v Network Rail Infrastructure Ltd

Mr Lancelot Lewis (the “Claimant”) commenced employment with Network Rail Infrastructure Limited (“the Respondent”) on 14 March 2005 and had been a Grade 8 Signaller since October 2006, working at at Marston Vale Signal Centre since March 2015. The Claimant identified as Black British and relied on colour as the aspect of race to form his protected characteristic.  

On 24 July 2018 the Claimant was involved in a serious near-miss incident: the Claimant gave permission to a member of the public to cross the railway line when he ought not to have done as a train was approaching the crossing.  The member of the public had stopped when she saw the train go past and then contacted the signal box, advising the Claimant that a train has passed in front of her. The Claimant apologised to the member of the public for his error and allowed the member of the public to then cross safely.

The Respondent had in place a procedure whereby the Claimant should have reported ‘near-miss’ incidents to Operations Control and/or to his colleague by the end of his shift. He did not do so. The husband of the member of the public who had been wrongly instructed to cross the line by the Claimant contacted the Respondent to report the incident and make a formal complaint, and the Claimant was then removed from safety-critical duties (which is a standard procedure to avoid the risk of further such incidents).

A disciplinary hearing was arranged with the Claiamnt and took place on 20 May 2019. The Claimant did not dispute breaching the Respondent’s policies and procedures, but stated he was in shock and his failure to report the incident was out of character. His union representative also stated at that meeting that the Claimant was at the time working with a colleague (a Mr Cattini) who he did not trust, and against whom he had taken out a grievance previously. The Claimant suggested that this caused him to be hesitant to report the near-miss to his colleague, and further argued that he had been treated more severely than other signalling staff (quoting examples).

The Respondent issued the Claimant with a final written warning dated 5 June 2019, lasting 12 months – this was due to the seriousness of the incident, the potentially fatal consequences of it, and because signallers should reasonably be aware that incidents of such a kind should be reported.  The failure of the Claimant’s to notify Operations Control and his Local Operations Manager immediately had meant that no remedial action could be taken which could have involved protecting the Claimant’s own well being.

The Claimant appealed on three grounds. These were:

  1. On the interpretation of facts of the original hearing;
  2. The severity of the punishment; and
  3. His feeling that he had been treated unfairly due to race.

The Respondent was surprised at the reference to being treated unfairly due to his race as this had not been raised at the disciplinary hearing.

The Claimant’s appeal hearing took place on 16 October 2019 but the Respondent rejected the appeal, upholding the original decision. The Respondent did not take the Claimant’s relationship with Mr Cattini into consideration.

It subsequently transpired that another member of staff (Hayley Giles) had in a statement referred to a grievance against Mr Cattini, as well as to racist and derogatory comments Ms Giles stated that Mr Cattini had made (in particular, an allegation that Mr Cattini had stated to Ms Giles that the Claimant was a fucking disgusting wog.) The Claimant was made aware of Ms Giles’ statement in due course and on 19 November 2018 the Claimant raised a grievance.  He argued in his grievance that he had been treated differently in the way he had been disciplined to a number of other Signalling staff, and the use of racist language used by Mr Cattini about him (relying on Ms Giles’ statement containing the relevant words).

The Respondent undertook an investigation into the Claimant’s grievance but, for various reasons, failed to investigate the specific complaint that Mr Cattini had referred to the Claimant as a “fucking disgusting wog”.

The Claimant subsequently submitted a claim to the Employment Tribunal complaining that he had been subjected to direct race discrimination and race-related harassment.

The decision of the Employment Tribunal

The Employment Tribunal found that the following conduct amounted to race-related harassment under section 26 of the Equality Act 2010:

  • That the Respondent failed to investigate the allegation that Mr Cattini described the Claimant as a “fucking disgusting wog”, when the issue was first raised by the Claimant; and
  • That the Respondent should have investigated the allegation rather Mr Cattini’s conduct when the grievance brought by the Claimant was investigated

The Employment Tribunal found that Mr Cattini had not in fact used the words alleged, but that the Respondent’s failure to deal with the Claimant’s complaint amounted to race-related harassment.

The other claims regarding different treatment in the way the disciplinary action was instigated when compared with comparators were not well founded were dismissed.

The Employment Judge did not deal with remedy in this particular judgment (it is expected that there will be a further hearing to determine remedy).

Our lawyers’ views on Lancelot Lewis v Network Rail Infrastructure Ltd

Stephen Norton, a legal adviser at Redmans, commented on the case: “In this case the ET accepted the employers need to discipline the employee for failure to follow safety procedures and found no evidence of him facing different treatment from named comparators in this respect.  However, the failure not to investigate the allegations of racism where an employee has been the victim of alleged racist language or abuse as the ET stated raises the “justifiable expectation that his employer will investigate such matters with appropriate rigour.”

The liability judgment in the case of Lewis v Network Rail Infrastructure Ltd – ET3300540/2019 can be found here.


Redmans Employment Team deal with employment matters for both employers and employees, including drafting employment contracts and policies, advising employers and employees on compromise agreements, handling day-to-day HR issues, advising on restructures, and handling Employment Tribunal cases for both employers and employees Call 020 3397 3603 to speak to one of the members of our employment team or email us on enquiries@redmans.co.uk. Redmans have offices in Richmond, Chiswick, Hammersmith, Fulham, Kingston, Wimbledon, Ealing, Kings Cross and Marylebone (meetings strictly by appointment only).

Want to talk to an expert employment law solicitor?

You'll receive a callback from a specialist within an hour

Share →

Our awards

Request a callback

    Your first name (required)

    Your last name (required)

    Your email (required)

    Your telephone number (required)

    Brief details of your enquiry

    Contact us

    Please feel free to discuss your own position and concerns. Contact your nearest office on:

    T: 020 3397 3603
    E: enquiries@redmans.co.uk
    W: www.redmans.co.uk


    4.78 Average

    269 Reviews

    Sue W

    The people at Redmans talk to you with respect and make you feel like they take your situation personal. They clearly care and are extremely professional. I have recommended Redmans to many people.

    Posted 3 days ago


    Redmans Solicitors were consistently prompt, efficient and professional from the start of my reaching out to them for support in relation to contentious negotiations of an employment matter that continued for almost two months resulting in a positive settlement agreement. Chris Hadrill was diligent, thorough, empathetic and objective in his advice and guidance, showing deep and broad knowledge of the law and legal processes plus extensive practical experience in handling complex matters, resulting in clear and pragmatic advice in ambiguous circumstances that resulted in a very good outcome. I fully recommend Chris Hadrill and Redmans Solicitors! I have made this review anonymous purely because of the confidentiality obligations in the settlement agreement concluded.

    Posted 1 month ago

    Michelle W

    Redmans solicitors provided legal support and advice for a settlement agreement. Excellent customer service, very professional. The senior associate solicitor kept me updated throughout the process, showed empathy and the agreement was signed-off / completed within the agreed timeline.

    Posted 1 month ago

    Mark W

    Redmans Solicitors were extremely professional and helpful! Chris Hadrill handled my case and was an amazing help! His guidance, advice and understanding to my redundancy settlement were always clear, concise and very helpful and I am very grateful to him, and glad I found Redmans to help with my settlement. I highly recommend them!

    Posted 1 month ago

    Alison M

    Very happy with the advice I received

    Posted 1 month ago

    Margaret A

    I found everything about the company to be extremely professional and efficient. During my initial contact with Chris, he listened well and was reassuring, so I felt confident that my case would be well handled. Caroline was excellent at explaining all the legal points and answering my questions, as well as being very supportive and understanding throughout the process. I would definitely recommend this company.

    Posted 1 month ago

    Sanja K

    Very efficient and professional service.

    Posted 1 month ago


    I found the advice I was given by Redmans Solicitors to be clear and useful and found the solicitor on my case to be both knowledgeable and approachable.

    Posted 1 month ago

    Karen T

    Great service. Thank you.

    Posted 1 month ago


    Excellent service from Chris & Mel Chin. The best outcome was achieved from the redundancy process. They were extremely thorough, listened carefully and acted swiftly on my behalf. I highly recommend Redmans Solicitors

    Posted 1 month ago

    Shanine M

    Excellent service, thank you so much!

    Posted 1 month ago


    I found Caroline and Chris very Helpful and provided excellent service. Caroline especially provided great legal advice and made me feel at ease with the whole process. I would highly recommend them. Thank you!

    Posted 1 month ago

    Gayle B

    Excellent company very professional would definitely recommend

    Posted 1 month ago

    Alex K

    Redmans provided an excellent service, timely and effective. Will definitely recommend.

    Posted 1 month ago


    Great job done on my employment law

    Posted 1 month ago

    Dominica S

    Caroline & Chris were very prompt and efficient.Very happy with the service and will definitely recommend Redmans Solicitor to everyone !

    Posted 1 month ago

    Sandra K

    If you are looking for a group of solicitors who are Professional, Caring and on point, then look no futher than Redmans. I was literally hand held through out my case. Can not find fault with this company, very happy with the result and the service i received. Would highly recommend Redmans.

    Posted 1 month ago


    I found dealing with Redmans a pleasure. I got to speak to someone quickly, the advice was profferred promplty and the service was not 'pushy'. In addition, the administration was excellent. What more could you ask for?

    Posted 1 month ago


    Redmans did a brilliant job regarding my redundancy agreement. I miss read an extra charge which wasnt the case so doing a new review to clarify. I would recommend Redmans for any employment law issues you may have.

    Posted 2 months ago

    Christos G

    Great legal advice and quick correspondence. Very supportive and helpful through the entire process. Thank you Redmans!

    Posted 2 months ago


    Chris Hadrill advised me on a redundancy settlement agreement. He was very responsive, easy to deal with and gave me good advice at a stressful time.

    Posted 2 months ago