Lidl worker 'sacked after reacting to ISIS bomber abuser'

Lidl worker, 40, is sacked for shoving colleague after he ‘was regularly accused of being an ISIS bomber in five years of racist abuse’

  • Behzad Bahmanzad claims he was subjected to five years of abuse at Lidl
  • The 40-year-old is originally from Iran but has lived in England for 20 years
  • Claims he was suspended and fired for reacting to being called a ‘bomber’ 

A Lidl worker was sacked from his position after reacting to colleagues who he claimed regularly subjected him to racist abuse and accused him of being part of ISIS.

Behzad Bahmanzad worked at the store in Plymouth, Devon, for five years and said he was bullied by other staff members who repeatedly called him ‘ISIS’, ‘terrorist’ and ‘bomber’.

The 40-year-old, who is originally from Iran but has British citizenship after living in England for 20 years, said he finally snapped – and was given the boot from his job.

He said things came to a head in October last year when an altercation with another worker took place in a warehouse.

Behzad Bahmanzad (pictured above) worked at the store in Plymouth, Devon, for five years and said he had had enough of the abuse 

Behzad said: ‘They were treating me the same way, saying they were joking, taking the p***, asking ‘are you ISIS or a bomber’.

‘They would say I wasn’t allowed to say ‘shoot’. After the bombing in Manchester I came in the next day and they asked ‘are you tired today? You’ve just come all the way from Manchester haven’t you?’

‘I understood what they was trying to suggest.’

He said that on one occasion his colleagues ‘called him ISIS’ and he had ‘had enough’.

‘It was humiliating me. I told them to f*** off. I got angry.’

Behzad said the incident occurred in a warehouse section of the Lidl store and he claimed he was nudged and in return pushed back, suggesting that if the person wanted to continue making racist comments they should go outside rather than it be done in front of customers.

He said: ‘This person would disrespect me in front of customers again and again. I’d had enough of it – why should they be allowed to treat me this way. Everyone has their limits.’

Behzad claimed he was suspended and later fired because of the incident. 

He appealed to a regional manager but said he was informed that because he had not made any previous complaints about racial harassment, and that because his pushing was captured on CCTV, and that his claim to take the matter outside was interpreted as a threat of violence, his appeal would not succeed. 

It is not clear whether or not Behzad plans to take his appeal to an employment tribunal. 

He said he went to police where he reported the incidents and was given a crime reference number, but advised that they could not investigate the matter further.

He added: ‘After years of this I was upset and angry. How many times did I go home upset and angry, being called ‘muzzy’, ‘P*** and n*****. I don’t have a criminal record but was made to feel like I was the criminal.

‘I’m now out of work and waiting for my first Universal Credit payment – I’ve been told I won’t get anything until January 5. I’ve not had anything since November. I need food, I need to pay my bills.

‘I’ve done nothing wrong other than defend myself. I would warn other people who are going through what I’ve gone through to report it. Learn my lesson – report it immediately, regardless of who is doing it to you. My mistake was not reporting it. They have been calling me all these names for years, for five years.

‘I was a good worker, I was always helping people, helping the customers. It’s just not right what has happened to me.’

Lidl said it took all alleged racist behaviour seriously and that ‘under no circumstances do we condone or tolerate any form of discrimination’.

But Behzad said: ‘Anything that happened around the world to do with terrorism, the day after I knew that this would be coming.’

Although he said he was ‘getting used to it’ he admits that many nights he would go home and become increasingly angry and depressed, often crying or left punching a wall out of fury at the abuse he said he regularly suffered.

He added: ‘There would be sarcasm in front of customers. I’ve been here [in England] for 20 years and I’ve been called everything.

‘I’ve been called n******, and P***. Many times I’ve just ignored it, but over time it does affect you. You go home and feel like a second class citizen. I have a British passport, I’ve got two children. My daughter has blonde hair and blue eyes! Sometimes I would wonder how am I going to protect my children from this [abuse].

‘At work it would get so bad I would go home and sometimes sit in a corner, crying, punching a wall.

‘I would tell this person ‘I’m not from an Arab country – I’m from Iran’. They would say they were just making a joke but sometimes I was just shaking from the humiliation and anger of it.’

Behzad said he did not report the alleged racial abuse because he felt it would be problematic for his job, harming his chances of getting shifts which would allow him to be at home in the afternoon to be with his son who has special needs.

He said: ‘I look back and realise that was biggest mistake I ever made – why did I not report them? Instead I said nothing.’

Devon and Cornwall Police said: ‘This matter was reported to the police and an officer has met Mr Bahmanzad to discuss this incident and for us to advise him on our powers in this type of matter.

‘Whilst there are occasions where racial comments within the workplace could be a criminal matter or a public order offence, this incident doesn’t appears to fall within this threshold which is why this has been recorded as a hate incident rather than a hate crime.’

‘Therefore, we have advised Mr Bahmanzad that this appears to be an employment issue and one that an employer is duty bound to investigate and lead on.’

A spokesperson for Lidl said: ‘Under no circumstances do we condone or tolerate any form of discrimination and take any such behaviour extremely seriously.

‘We have strict grievance procedures in place and any matters brought to our attention, whether during or after employment, are subject to thorough internal investigations.

‘We understand that some employees may not wish to raise issues directly with line management, and therefore have a range of support options in place including an Employee Assistance Programme, dedicated Employee Relations Consultants and a whistleblowing hotline.’

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