Boy of mixed race who was asked to leave Co Down store paid £3,000

Equality HouseA boy of mixed race who was asked to leave a store in County Down has been paid £3,000 in settlement of his case alleging racial discrimination.

The Equality Commission for Northern Ireland supported the boy, a minor, in taking his case against DSG Retail Limited, operators of Curry’s PC World, which was settled without admission of liability.

The boy went into the store to buy a wireless keyboard, while his mother waited outside in the car. He says that while he was walking around the store he was approached by a member of staff and asked to leave; this happened several times.

The boy explained why he was in the shop and asked why he should leave, but no reason or explanation was given. He was followed and closely observed as he selected and paid for the keyboard and left the store.

At the time the boy’s mother challenged the people in the store and later complained on the phone to a man who said he was the local manager, but says she did not get a satisfactory response. She alleges that reference was made to other “blacks” having caused trouble and damaged items in the store.

Chief commissioner Dr Michael Wardlow said: “For any thirteen-year-old child it would be troubling and upsetting to be told to leave a store, followed and observed closely as he made his purchase. To feel, as this young boy did, that he was singled out and treated unfairly because of his race, while out shopping in his home town, made this particularly traumatic.

“Racial prejudice sometimes involves discrimination in the workplace and even outright violence against people and their homes. It can also, however, present itself in lower level, daily interactions. Assumptions made about people, based on stereotypes, simply because of the colour of their skin, can result in unfair and hurtful treatment which can make a damaging impact on a person’s self-esteem and self-confidence. There is no place for this in our society.”

In addition to paying £3,000, the company has undertaken to liaise with the Equality Commission to review their equal opportunity policies, practices and procedures and to implement any reasonable recommendations it makes, including race awareness training for their staff.

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