Manager at security firm was told to ‘go back to his own country’, WRC hears

Former employee alleges ‘culture of racism’ at company

A security manager with a large security firm was allegedly told by his line manager that he should go back to his own country, the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) has heard.

Damian Kowalski, a Polish national and former manager with One Complete Solutions Ltd (OCS), testified on Wednesday in relation to a complaint under the Employment Equality Act by an Indian ex-manager, Sayed Baqur-Hussain.

Mr Baqur alleges a “culture of racism” at OCS was behind his demotion after he punched a shoplifter who had attempted to steal meat from Tesco’s store on Jervis Street, Dublin in August 2022. He admits punching the man but says it was in self-defence. The man had punched an OCS colleague and racially abused them.

Giving evidence in the case about the culture at the company, Mr Kowalski said he “loved” working with OCS when he joined in September 2014. However, he said he resigned in 2020 due to repeated, racial abuse by a manager.


On one occasion, he said she told him: “Oh so if you think this job is from nine to five, you are obviously in the wrong place and not supposed to be here. Maybe you should go back to your country and maybe there’s a place for lazy people like you.”

He said this manager repeatedly asked him to stay back after monthly operations’ meetings.

“Every month after the meeting she told me to stay in the room and every month it was the same: that ‘I am lazy, that I am not supposed to be here ... that this company is only for the Irish people ... and this is not a circus’.”

He made an official complaint to OCS’s human resources department “over bullying and discrimination” in November 2019. He was told to “grab a coffee” with the manager and “try and sort it out” and advised it was his word against hers and to “leave it”.

He did not take it further, he told solicitor Catriona McKeating for IBEC, appearing for OCS, because he did not believe there would be a “good outcome” for him.

“We all know the HR is there just to protect the managers ... you are not going to achieve anything no matter what you’re going to say, from the HR ... I had enough stress to just keep fighting ... and when the HR is telling you it’s your word against her, what do you do in this case?”

Ms McKeating put it to the witness that his experience in 2020 “couldn’t possibly relate to the incident” concerning Mr Baqur-Hussain’s demotion in 2022.

“I am just saying about my experiences in OCS. It has nothing to do with Sayed’s experience or his case ... It is my experience with OCS ... Her behaviour was rude to non-Irish people. The things what she said to me was said when we were in the room alone. But she never speak in the same way she speak to different nationalities that she speak to Irish people.”

Joan Murphy, formerly with OCS, investigated the incident involving the alleged shoplifter. Having reviewed CCTV footage, read statements and met Mr Baqur-Hussain and his colleague, she judged they had not followed operating procedures and had failed to de-escalate the situation.

Nicola Coleman, of the Siptu Workers’ Rights Centre, representing the complainant, asked Ms Murphy if the racial abuse by the shoplifter had had any bearing on her decision-making.

Ms Murphy did not answer this but said she could not hear what was being said in the CCTV footage.

“There was no way for me to validate what either party was saying to each other,” she said.

“You could have validated, I would say, by asking. Did you ask him was it racial abuse?”

“No,” said Ms Murphy.

The hearing continues on Wednesday.

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Kitty Holland

Kitty Holland

Kitty Holland is Social Affairs Correspondent of The Irish Times