The thin line between banter and harassment.

MrMemory

War Hero
Interesting story developing here on where edgy banter crosses over the line into abuse and harassment in the workplace.

If the complaint is successful the MOD may be in the hole for £100k and a few careers will have a shadow cast over them.

What may seem like a laugh between workmates can look entirely different when being described in the context of a disciplinary interview.


"Mark De Kretser, 48, who has Sri Lankan heritage, said he was subjected to "grindingly repetitive" racist taunts from colleagues at a Desert Rats base near Thetford.

He was compared to the diminutive James Bond bad guy, corner shop owner Apu from The Simpsons and Bill Cosby's Dr Huxtable character from The Cosby Show, he told a judge.

Racist posters were put up at the base, while he was also called "stupid" and assaulted, he says, before being medically discharged due to mental stresses in January 2017.

At the High Court in London, the former colour sergeant, of Wroxham, is claiming £100,000 for harassment and bullying from the MoD, which denies liability.

The MoD admits that some of the events happened, but says they were just "banter" between best mates in a cadet training group, part of the 7 Infantry Brigade, known as the Desert Rats.

None of it was racist and was instead done in the "spirit of jest," while Mr De Kretser himself was prone to using "salty language," the MoD claims.

Sgt Kevin McHenry, who admitted putting up the Nick Nack and Stavros Flatley posters and who referred to Mr De Kretser as Dr Huxtable, considered he was his best friend.

The posters were "good-natured and formed part of an overall context of camaraderie and banter," while the Dr Huxtable reference came from Mr De Kretser first, said MoD barrister Niazi Fetto."
 

overopensights

ADC
Book Reviewer
He seems to have put up with it for an awful long time, before deciding it was unbearable.
If he didn't have the moral courage and strength to put up with banter and piss taking from his mates, then where did he get the moral strength to become a Company Colour Sergeant? Some of the strongest characters that I knew in the army held that rank.
 
He seems to have put up with it for an awful long time, before deciding it was unbearable.
That can sometimes be part of the issue. As he didn’t have a problem for some time, does that mean there wasn’t a problem? Perhaps this person felt they could “play along” but it went too far?
At what point do you decide something is unbearable? I have raised an eyebrow at nicknames between blokes that I thought were odd/out of order/downright offensive, but that’s part of their banter.
Posters displaying things that may have been previous nicknames is, IMO, a bit far. If only because junior ranks are aware of the banter, and it undermines the authority of the CSgt.
Interesting to see what falls out of this.
 

Awol

LE
If he didn't have the moral courage and strength to put up with banter and piss taking from his mates, then where did he get the moral strength to become a Company Colour Sergeant? Some of the strongest characters that I knew in the army held that rank.
It also looks like he took the legal action at what must have been after the end of his army career.
 

Awol

LE
That can sometimes be part of the issue. As he didn’t have a problem for some time, does that mean there wasn’t a problem? Perhaps this person felt they could “play along” but it went too far?
At what point do you decide something is unbearable? I have raised an eyebrow at nicknames between blokes that I thought were odd/out of order/downright offensive, but that’s part of their banter.
Posters displaying things that may have been previous nicknames is, IMO, a bit far. If only because junior ranks are aware of the banter, and it undermines the authority of the CSgt.
Interesting to see what falls out of this.
You don't wait thirty years.
 
Hopefully if he gets anything ,someone who he has engaged with banter himself turns it around and sues his ärse for every penny he’s won.....
 
To combine an answer to Awol and overopensights:
I’m not second guessing the build up to this complaint. There will be more to this than meets the eye.
I note that this is a reserve unit. I agree that being a CSgt confers a prestige in the battalion as a man who should be consulted before decisions are made involving them. They are the original hard men of the regiment, after all. So he must have something about him.
But this position should, and must, confer some respect. That’s the whole point of the rank/commission system. You chaps who did your 22 and left as RSM must know this. Bantz, shitz n giggles is ok, but should be just that, surely?
I always remember a phrase “On parade, on parade. Off parade, off parade.”
I left the army as a trooper. Met many a good person wearing stripes, and some *******. Officers too. Still applied courtesy when required.
 

The_Poltroon

Swinger
In this day and age you're never going to get away with engaging in behaviour that could be deemed as harassment or bullying.

I joined the Army in 1987 and I cringe now when I look back at some of the stuff that went on. I remember we were often summoned into the office by our troop staff by having your name screamed loudly down the corridor but the one solitary black recruit in my intake never was... they'd summon him out of his room by banging on the bottom of the metal waste paper bin like the jungle drums.

To his credit he took it all in the good humour which I'd hope it was intended.

If that happened today he'd be getting a massive payout and the DS would lose their jobs.
 
I genuinely struggle with this sort of thing. I am part of a team where the banter is merciless. Nothing, except your dog, is off limits. And if you are in the barrel, ride the storm because in a minute the focus will switch.
I also know that every single member of my team would put their life on the line for me, and if I had a genuine problem, professional or personal, would dig out blind to help.
I would absolutely shit myself if I stopped getting completely destroyed for everything I say and do.
But I also know that as a straight, white, CofE ish, middle aged male, I have no right to an opinion when it comes to oppression.
I may be a dinosaur, but I believe to do the jobs I have done my whole adult life, you need to be a bit robust. Physically and emotionally.
 
I note that this is a reserve unit.
You note wrong then, Cadet Training teams are not reserve Units they are Brigade units and are generally made up of Ex Regulars on FTRS contracts and actual regular soldiers with the very occasional TA/Reserve soldier who has applied for an advertised FTRS post in a CTT in the same way the the ex reg guys have
 
You note wrong then, Cadet Training teams are not reserve Units they are Brigade units and are generally made up of Ex Regulars on FTRS contracts and actual regular soldiers with the very occasional TA/Reserve soldier who has applied for an advertised FTRS post in a CTT in the same way the the ex reg guys have
Roger. I had not gleaned that from the initial post. My fault for not digging a bit, and you are of course right about the above. This may make the whole thing more complicated/interesting.
There will be a lot to fall out of this, I’m sure.
 
You only have to look at people the wrong way these days to get collared.

My bro was telling me about some 'banter' a mate of his went through while working at Securicor. All because he wore a moustache.

Shaving it off didn't help. He still got called 'Chico' on a daily basis. They drove that man to the point of a nervous breakdown. The whole lot. Unrelenting. Merciless. And all in the name of banter. But it was 'banter'. It was never vicious or malicious.

It went on for weeks apparently. My bro had tears in his eyes as he regaled the tale. It still made him chuckle many years later.

The bloke who it happened to didn't find it so funny of course. But he put up with it. He really did put up with some shit. And the more shit he put up with, the more they piled on top. They even made videos.

He lost the plot one day. And that was the end of it.

"I shaved the ****** off because of you!" he cried.

The whole place just melting down in absolute ******* tears. Of joy if nothing else.

They had taken this man to the brink.

In America, he might have gone 'postal'.

But this was not abuse. It was 'banter' in its absolute most brutal form. Unrelenting. Without mercy. And everyone in on the joke. Except 'him'.

He could have gone to 'human resources' - he could have done a lot of things. But he just ******* ate it. It kept him awake at night.

But he never kicked back, not like a bitch anyway. He took it like a trooper.

That moment where he was just about to fly off the rails - they knew - this was the point to stop.

Apparently you had to be there, in that dark dank Securicor depot. Where they all hated their jobs and their life, but loved tormenting this poor soul so much.

He really went ******* ballistic apparently. But the more ballistic he went, the more everyone cracked up. It was hard to hate him after that. But they never really hated him to begin with.

Probably the most extreme case of 'banter' you will ever find. I'm sure others have better stories. I wasn't even there. But my brother telling the tales of how he was relentlessly bullied one day over just making the wrong mistake to wear a Mexican moustache in to work. Priceless. His sides were splitting. I would have worked in the depot for a few months myself just to experience this, this, breaking down of a man, day after day, without pity....

But when he lost it, they just stopped.

Like reeling in a fish, knowing you have caught it, you just throw it back in to the water.

Apparently, they all went back to work the next day, and no one ever dared mention anything ever again. It was like it never happened. "Chico Mendez" had a new found respect.

I don't know, they probably found someone else to pick on for something.


There was 20 points of failure there for someone to get done for harrassment, but you'd have had to have sacked the whole depot.

Was it bullying?

YES.

Was it harrassment?

YES.


Did he take it like a Champ?

YES.

Did he earn the respect of his peers?

YES.



---------------


Maybe not the best example.

A rare use case.

'banter' in all its glory...


"I shaved the ****** off because of you"

LOL.
 
I genuinely struggle with this sort of thing. I am part of a team where the banter is merciless. Nothing, except your dog, is off limits. And if you are in the barrel, ride the storm because in a minute the focus will switch.
I also know that every single member of my team would put their life on the line for me, and if I had a genuine problem, professional or personal, would dig out blind to help.
I would absolutely shit myself if I stopped getting completely destroyed for everything I say and do.
But I also know that as a straight, white, CofE ish, middle aged male, I have no right to an opinion when it comes to oppression.
I may be a dinosaur, but I believe to do the jobs I have done my whole adult life, you need to be a bit robust. Physically and emotionally.

Banter has an 'evolutionary' purpose.

It sorts the men from the boys.

Banter needs to be cruel and cut to the core. That's the whole point.

Hit a man where it hurts, when he's not expecting it. Let him know. See how he takes it.

Some will hold grudges and bitch back at you even months later. Sulking all the while.

A small man can hit a big man with this. It's the great leveler. Perhaps he told you something, not quite in confidence, maybe, but he let something slip. Teach him about loose lips as well!

Prod them in the ribs.

If they can't forget about that and be quick-witted enough to catch you out on your weak points, well...

We don't really get to indulge in banter on civvy street. People call HR, or the Police these days.

Relish that environment!

But there is a definite line to be drawn. Everyone knows where it is. You know it.

It doesn't take much for banter to turn in to malicious BS.

So I let my guard down about something. And you won't let me forget it. Banter.

But I let you in to a deep part of my soul about how my sibling/parent died from a terrible disease. And you make fun of this?

Raise the bar. Bring it on. Be ******* merciless, relentless. But there is a place you don't go. And everyone knows where that is.

It's one thing to build character in a man.

It's another thing to just crush him for your own petty wants.


Those that are bullied come to hate their would be masters.

But I'd walk over hot coals not to let down the man that gives me a chance. That leads by example. Unquestioning. If you give respect to people, they tend to give it back.

All great leaders know this.
 
TBH, I thought from the thread title that this was going to be about some of the viciousness going on in other Arrse places, such as the Brexit or latest Bugsy threads.
 
For those unaware the law is simple, if you are asked to stop performing a repetitive act that the recipient considers harassment and you don't it's harassment.

This in theory allows the cynical two get outs, we bullied them so much they didn't have the courage to ask us to stop and it was never repetitive we found a different way to harass them each time. Court cases seem to indicate that the first isn't being accepted, and the breadth of repetitive is being interpreted very broadly as 'any series of acts that might be interpreted as harassment by the jury'.

I would suggest that the only functional defence in this case would be to show it was a two way street and the injured party also engaged in similar 'banter' with his accusers.
 

Latest Threads

Top