Nicknames can constitute race discrimination
The case reported below shows that race discrimination can equally occur based on national origin as on the colour of a person’s skin. It also clearly shows that discrimination liability is based on perception of the treatment by the employee, not the employer. What the employer may allege is a harmless joke may well not be deemed as such in law.
In this case a worker of Polish origin was given the nickname “Borat”, the character ridiculed in the well known movie of the same name starring Sacha Baron Cohen. The name, and the character have certain negative stereotypes associated in relation to eastern Europeans.
The employment tribunal decided that persistent use of this nickname amounted to direct race discrimination and constituted harassment, was degrading and a humiliating working environment.
In summary, as an employer, to be on the safe side and in compliance with good management, stamp out these kind of nicknames, ensure you have something in your policies and procedures. On a tongue in cheek basis (not serious) if you won’t stamp it out, make sure everyone has a nickname !