A READING worker who explained something to a colleague in Polish has won a £9,000 payout for race discrimination.

Team leader Slawomir Rowinski worked at logistics firm Kuehne & Nagelat in Worton Grange Industrial Estate, Reading.

He was accused by supervisor Neil Wailes of breaching a strict company policy to converse only in English.

The Polish-born instructor told an employment tribunal one of the reasons he had been hired was for his language skills. He claimed he had been told he could speak in Polish if he was training and it helped with that.

Polish has become the most common non-native tongue in England and Wales with 700,000 speakers - ahead of Urdu and Punjabi.

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Roughly half the workforce at food company Kuehne & Nagel in Reading is made up of migrants.

They come from Italy, Spain, Bulgaria, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Nigeria, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia, Romania and Poland.

Scots-born Mr Wailes "exploded with angry and rude talk" as Mr Rowinski was teaching two new starters.

He shouted: "I'm really p***** off with people who do not speak English at work."

Mr Wailes said it was the claimant who reacted aggressively by throwing down a potato - insisting he could "speak Polish if I want."

He told the hearing colleague Stephen Maginnis first asked him to speak English. But the tribunal believed Mr Rowinski.

Employment Judge Andrew Gumbiti-Zimuto said: "We found on 9 July 2019 the claimant was speaking in Polish, this was agreed by the parties.

"We accept that the claimant did this, as he said, to help a Polish trainee experiencing difficulties with an aspect of the training.

"We note the claimant did not recall Stephen Maginnis' intervention. We attach no significance to that.

"The claimant's evidence to the Tribunal was Neil Wailes' intervention was aggressive and hostile.

"The claimant accepted he had an angry reaction to what was said by Neil Wailes but considered it was appropriate in the light of how Neil Wailes had spoken to him."

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He said the tribunal was satisfied Mr Wailes was "angry, rude,aggressive and hostile."

A second incident occurred a month later when Mr Rowinski was standing by the Goods In window speaking to a colleague in Polish.

The Reading tribunal accepted Mr Wailes approached him and in a rude aggressive manner said "stop speaking in Polish".

Next day he delivered a briefing in which he reminded staff of the respondent's language policy.

Mr Rowinski lodged a grievance complaint that was later rejected by shift manager Mathew Lindsay.

He told the investigation he had been given permission to use Polish when training.

According to Metro, Employment judge, Andrew Gumbiti-Zumuto, ruled ‘no such breach’ of a company’s language policy would justify the ‘rude and aggressive way’ Mr Wailes had spoken to him and awarded Mr Rowinski £8973.63 in compensation for race discrimination.

‘We doubt that a reasonable employer aware of the all the circumstances would view Mr Rowinski’s action (speaking in Polish to the trainee) as a breach of the policy.

‘Even if he was in technical breach of the policy, no such breach would justify Neil Wailes speaking to him in a rude and aggressive way as he did.’