Comes now a newly effective law in the Channel Island of Jersey – the first anti-discrimination law there and 13 years in the making. It only covers race for now, but “it is expected that sex, age and disability will follow.”
And the terrible anxiety has just begun.
The first that we heard of this new fear is from an article in the online BBC News Jersey in which an employment expert opined that “Calling someone a ‘bean’ is unlikely to fall foul” of the new law. Wheww! We were bloody worried.
For you blokes out there who do not know Jersey, seems that “The term ‘bean’, [is] a colloquial reference to Jersey’s traditional bean stew, [and] is seen by some as derogatory. A local press report recently suggested calling someone a bean at work could prompt complaints under the new law.”
We don’t quite get it on a number of levels — if the law now only covers race, is “bean” a possibly racist epithet?
Said the local employment lawyer: “It comes down to whether the person is objectively offended. It’s important people are quick to say they are uncomfortable with something. That puts the onus on the employer but also gives them the opportunity to do something.”
The Jersey Social Security Minister said that the law is “only a minefield if you make it one. What the law provides is a clause, that I was particularly keen appeared, about the interpretation of harassment. In the workplace, if it seems quite common to say ‘bean’ or ‘jock’ then that’s fine, but if someone takes offence and requests that it stop and it doesn’t then that might be harassment.”
PS. My mom used to call me “ol’ bean” when I was a kid in Brooklyn, and I never knew what it meant. Was she harassing me??? OMG!