London Overground rail workers were subjected to a “toxic” culture of racist bullying, an employment tribunal has found. 

A black employee twice fell victim to racially-motivated false allegations, judges found – first by a colleague and then by an investigator. 

Another employee, of Asian heritage, was subjected to repeated racist remarks, including being likened to a terrorist. 

Arriva Rail London (ARL), whose seven-and-a-half-year deal to run London Overground began in 2016, said it was “shocked and saddened” by the revelations. 

It would not say whether the culprits faced disciplinary action, citing data protection rules. 


Information controller Nick Morgan, of Caribbean heritage, was subjected to persistent “hostile” behaviour by a white manager who called him “lazy” and said he would “whip him into shape”, the tribunal heard.

Judges said the tribunal saw “glimpses of bullying” and “clear evidence of belittling and abusive comments”. 

In August 2019, employees spoke on WhatsApp about bringing in food to mark the Notting Hill Carnival.  

The manager replied: “If we are bringing carnival into the office who is bringing the drugs and knives?” 

The tribunal found it had been a “gratuitous negative remark... related to race” and constituted "harassment". 


The following month, Mr Morgan was sent by another manager to buy bagels for the staff at ARL’s control room in Swiss Cottage. 

After several unavoidable delays, Mr Morgan overheard colleagues accusing him of “dragging his heels”. 

He commented that the next time they wanted breakfast, they could “get off their fat arses” and get it themselves. 

The next day, a colleague filed a formal complaint claiming Mr Morgan had been “very angry” and “shouting” in a “threatening” and “intimidating” manner. 

He said Mr Morgan had announced that “people are lucky they are not getting stabbed”. 


But the panel found that “Mr Morgan did not make any remark about stabbing”, saying the complainant had “exaggerated” and later “embellished” his account. 

The panel felt that the complainant “knew nothing threatening or intimidating had been directed at the room”. 

“No one else said Mr Morgan was ‘very angry’ and ‘shouting’,” they wrote. 

“If that had been true, then everyone would have heard the alleged stabbing remark.” 

They found no merit to the complaint, saying it was “consistent with conscious or unconscious racial stereotyping that finds black men aggressive”.

They deemed it “direct discrimination”.  

Times Series: Arriva Rail London was based at 125 Finchley Road, Swiss Cottage, CamdenArriva Rail London was based at 125 Finchley Road, Swiss Cottage, Camden (Image: Google Streetview)

“The Race Card” 

Yet when an ARL employee was appointed to investigate the incident, he sided with the complainant and recommended disciplinary action against Mr Morgan.

He wrote in his report that Mr Morgan had been “very angry” during the bagel incident. 

"We have asked ourselves whether this wording was because of Mr Morgan’s race,” the judges wrote. 

“We think that it was. We believe that [the investigator] had a conscious or unconscious stereotyped perception of Mr Morgan as intimidating and aggressive because he is a black man”. 

The investigator had later claimed in an interview: “Nick plays the race card... He has used his race in the past... Nick’s a big character, probably aggressive and tries to intimidate individuals.” 

The judges found there was no evidence of Mr Morgan “playing the race card” and that the phrase itself was “distasteful” and “disrespectful”.  

"If we look at the evidence before [the investigator], it very strongly showed that Mr Morgan was not aggressive or intimidating on the day in question,” said the judges. 

“He simply believed it... because of his underlying stereotyped perceptions.” 

This, the judges found, constituted “direct race discrimination”. 

Second Victim 

The investigator also failed to interview an Asian worker who sat directly beside Mr Morgan. 

“He was unable to explain why he had made this ‘oversight’,” the judges wrote. 

That co-worker gave evidence refuting the complaint against Mr Morgan.

He also testified that the control room was “a toxic environment” with a culture of “bullying”. 

He said he had been subject to “racist remarks” by “a group of mainly four people”, including the manager who sent the carnival WhatsApp message and the man who filed the complaint about Mr Morgan. 

Another staffer made "jokes" about the man "having a bomb in his bag”.

“We accept [his] evidence about the racist remarks made to him,” the judges wrote.

“We also accept [his] evidence about the control room culture.” 


“We deeply regret that our colleague experienced behaviour that is not at all in keeping with the principles of our organisation or our values and we have apologised and continue to offer ongoing support,” an ARL spokesperson said. 

“We do not tolerate racism or discrimination in any form... We will take appropriate action as a result to ensure that this type of behaviour has no place within ARL. 

“In addition to our own investigations, we have identified support from outside of ARL to conduct a review and make additional recommendations.” 

A hearing on Tuesday, December 6, will determine what compensation Mr Morgan is entitled to.