Black investment banker who sued bosses over racial discrimination after colleagues suggested team meeting at Nando’s because he “liked chicken” loses court
- George Gyimah accused Commerzbank colleague Bastian Buhlmann of racism
- Mr Gyimah said Mr Buhlmann commented that he “liked chicken”
- Commerzbank Senior Vice President said it was a “derogatory caricature”
- Labor court ruled against Mr. Gyimah, said the comments were not racist
A black investment banker sued for racial discrimination after colleagues suggested he hold a team meeting at Nando’s because he “liked chicken.”
George Gyimah accused his colleague Bastian Buhlmann of racism because “loving chicken was a derogatory caricature about black people”.
The senior vice-president of Commerzbank, who earns Â£ 85,000 a year, also alleged that Mr Buhlmann offered him poultry “as a jovial reward” if he could have his office facing the window.
An employment tribunal ruled that the remarks were made not because Mr. Gyimah was black, but because he liked chicken.
The panel said his colleagues at the bank were “unaware” of any stereotypes that black people love chicken and dismissed his claims of racial discrimination, harassment and victimization.
George Gyimah accused his colleague Bastian Buhlmann (pictured) of racism because “loving chicken was a derogatory caricature about black people”
The London hearing was informed that Mr Gyimah joined Commerzbank as Senior Vice President of Financial Crime Quality Assurance in July 2018.
Mr. Buhlmann is the functional manager of financial crime quality assurance within the company.
The court heard he grieved his bosses in February 2020, including allegations against another team member, Mr Buhlmann.
He said: âOn two occasions in the past four months, Bastian Buhlmann has used comments which have derogatory meaning to me.
The London hearing was informed that Mr Gyimah joined Commerzbank as Senior Vice President of Financial Crime Quality Assurance in July 2018 (file image)
‘[He] refers to my choice to demand a place that served fried chicken for a team lunch.
‘[He] Gifted me chicken as a reward in a jovial manner when the team discussed the location of our new office.
Mr Buhlmann said at a team lunch in October 2019 that there were long lines at all restaurants near the office except Nando’s.
He said he suggested going because Mr. Gyimah liked chicken and said, “Why don’t we go to Nando’s place, George, you like chicken.”
Mr Gyimah also claimed that after being given a desk in the office with a view, Mr Buhlmann made another remark about the chicken: “Give me your desk and I will give you chicken”, in November 2019.
Mr Buhlmann denied that this second comment was made and insisted that any reference to how Mr Gyimah liked chicken was because he had told them this before and not because he was black.
The court heard in February 2019 Mr. Gyimah, Mr. Buhlmann and his colleague Jose Arevalo were on a business trip to the headquarters in Frankfurt.
The panel ruled that his colleagues at the bank were “unaware” of any stereotypes about chicken-loving blacks and dismissed his claims of racial discrimination, harassment and victimization. Pictured is the Commerzbank office in London
Mr. Arevalo and Mr. Gyimah ordered chicken burgers one evening at their hotel. Mr Buhlmann told the court that Mr Gyimah said “he ordered a chicken burger because he liked chicken” in a humorous way.
Mr Buhlmann told the court that Mr Gyimah mentioned loving chicken several times in the office and gave an example where he commented that his wife made her favorite chicken dinner.
Mr. Arevalo recalled a conversation where he talked about attending a birthday meal for a friend at a restaurant with an all-you-can-eat buttermilk fried chicken buffet and Mr. Gyimah said he liked the chicken and asked for the name of the restaurant.
Bosses agreed the comments were made because he liked chicken, not because he was black, and his grievance was dismissed.
He then resigned and took the German banking giant to court.
The court recognized that there is a racist stereotype that black people love fried chicken. However, he concluded that this had nothing to do with the remarks made to Mr. Gyimah.
Labor judge Natasha Joffe said: âNo member of the tribunal was aware of any stereotypes about black people and chicken per se, as opposed to fried chicken.
“This is not to say that there is no such stereotype, but we considered that it is certainly not so well known that a reasonable person might conclude that Mr Buhlmann must have chosen to speak of the declared taste of M. on blacks.
âThere was no connection to breed because Mr. Buhlmann was unaware of the stereotype that blacks like chicken.
“He didn’t make the remarks because Mr. Gyimah was black, but because he knew he liked chicken.”