Muslim car salesman awarded £3,500 when boss said ‘Allah is the devil’

Temitayo Ajala won a religious harassment claim after his boss ‘farted and giggled’ while apologising for the comment (Picture: Solent News)

A car salesman who follows Islam won a religious harassment claim after his boss told him he believed ‘Allah is the devil’.

Temitayo Ajala, who worked at Doves Vauxhall dealership in Southampton, said his manager was told to say sorry but did a ‘loud fart’ and ‘giggled’ during the apology.

An employment tribunal heard Mr Ajala was in the middle of a sale when his customer said she wanted to go home and pray before making her decision.

Mr Ajala went to explain to his boss, Lyndon Parker, and made a comment that there was no difference between the Christian’s God and Allah as they are the same.

Mr Parker disagreed, and claimed Mr Ajala then became ‘aggressive and confrontational’ as he repeatedly asked him to justify his belief that the Christian God is different to Allah.

The tribunal said: ‘Mr Parker says he felt cornered and threatened and that in answer to repeated questions from Mr Ajala asking him to justify his statement, he stated calmly that his faith led him to believe Allah was not god and that Allah was the devil.’

The comment, which Mr Parker did not deny making, left Mr Ajala feeling very offended. The manager was told to apologise for the comment.

But after going home feeling unwell, Mr Ajala emailed dealership manager Darren Barnaby explaining Mr Parker had joked and let out a ‘very loud fart’ as he apologised.

Mr Ajala was awarded £3,000 for injury to feeling plus £520 in interest after the comments (Picture: Solent News)

The email read: ‘Sorry Darren but I must add as it has been bothering me throughout yesterday that the apology you said I would receive from Lyndon was delivered to me with jokes, justification and most disgustingly a very loud fart.

‘Yes, he did do a loud fart and giggle during the so-called apology. I hope this behaviour changes before I return.’

Mr Ajala, who is black, claimed two white employees who started after him were given better cars than the one he received when he started, which was a Vauxhall Adam.

He added in his first two weeks of employment Mr Parker joked he would have to drive a pink Viva, which was not suitable for any of the sales executives.

In a letter of complaint about this situation, Mr Ajala wrote: ‘When I first started work here there was friction due to me not believing at the time that I was being treated with the same level of respect and competency as other salesmen on the floor.

He worked at the dealership between December 2018 and December 2019 (Picture: Solent News)

‘I highlight that since my being here, two white males have started the same position as me but not had to wait a month for a demo or be put in an Adam, as Lyndon said potentially could happen.

‘This may seem trivial to you but these things make up a bigger picture to me and people like me of how I must fight for my place, 10 times harder than everyone else.’

Mr Ajala was later fired because he allegedly threatened Mr Barnaby during a discussion about errors in his pay, saying: ‘I know where you live and I just want you to know the person you are dealing with.’

He later sued Cambria Automobiles, the group that owns the dealership, where he worked between December 2018 and December 2019.

The tribunal in Southampton, Hampshire dismissed Mr Ajala’s claims of direct discrimination on the grounds of religion, direct discrimination on the grounds of race, and victimisation.

But it found Mr Ajala was unlawfully harassed for the ‘Allah is the devil’ comment made by Mr Parker, and he was awarded £3,000 for injury to feeling plus £520 in interest.

Employment judge Catherine Elizabeth Rayner said: ‘We find that the remark made by Mr Parker was an inherently offensive remark to make particularly to a black Muslim employee who was his junior.

‘We find it did offend and upset Mr Ajala both at the time and subsequently.

‘We find this was a violation of his dignity as a Muslim man in the workplace, and that it created, at the time, an offensive and hostile environment for Mr Ajala.’

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