SOCHI, Russia, Sept 28 — The Mercedes Formula One team confirmed today that they had dismissed four members of staff following an internal investigation into an incident of racist bullying.
A statement from Mercedes said that Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix confirmed “four individuals were dismissed from the company on August 2. These dismissals followed an internal investigation that confirmed breaches of our diversity and equality policy.”
News media reports on Saturday said the four workers were employed in the team's IT department and said they had bullied a Muslim employee. Three others were disciplined for breaching diversity rules.
“We condemn this behaviour in the strongest terms and acted immediately upon the complaint,” said Mercedes. “We value the diversity of our employees and it is a source of strength for our team.
“Our working environment is based on appreciation and mutual respect.”
Reports in UK newspapers The Sun and the Mirror said that staff organised a poll during Ramadan in which workers guessed when their Muslim colleague would break his fast.
A source told The Sun: “This was a really horrible case of racist bullying. They had been picking on one Muslim guy for years. It all came to light when they pinned up the poll.”
Defending five-time world champion Lewis Hamilton, who drives for the Mercedes team, has been a vocal critic of racism.
Final appeals against the dismissals were held last week before the team confirmed the decisions taken. — AFP