Amazon security guard sued after colleague made fun of his size

Amazon security guard

The security guard claimed he was harassed and “mocked” by his colleague because of his height (Image: Getty Images)

An Amazon security guard sued him for harassment after claiming he was “mocked” because of his height.

Christian Ononye said his colleague compared him to the famously little Gary Coleman by pinning a picture of the 1980s child star at work to the wall.

But the case was thrown out after a court concluded because the picture in question only showed Mr Coleman’s head and shoulders, it could not have been used to mock his size.

Mr. Coleman was known for playing the role of Arnold Jackson on the sitcom Diff’rent Strokes, with his iconic catchphrase, “Whatcha talkin bout Willis?”

The popular series about two African American boys who are taken in by a wealthy white man ran for eight series and 189 episodes between 1978 and 1986.

The actor suffered from a condition known as focal segmental glomerulosclerosis, an autoimmune disease that changes the kidneys. As a result, he stopped growing at a height of 4 feet 8 inches.

He died in 2010 at the age of 42 as a result of a head injury sustained in a fall.

During the tribunal, Mr Ononye told the court that a temporary worker at the site had “taunted” him by “hanging a picture of a person of short stature on the wall”.


Colleague pinned a picture of Gary Coleman’s head and shoulders to a wall at work (Image: WireImage)

Mr Ononye also claimed he had been racially abused by a colleague over a radio. He accused the colleague of saying “Christian, speak English to me,” but the court found that none of the other workers had heard.

The worker complained about the incident to plant security manager Richard Unitt and had the picture removed, although the court heard Mr Unitt did not know who printed or hung the picture because there was no video surveillance in the area.

Mr Unitt has repeatedly criticized Mr Ononye for his poor timekeeping – which he says was down to a faulty car battery – and subjected him to no fewer than eight searches after suspecting him of stealing the company.

After once refusing to empty his pockets, Mr Ononye was fired after a disciplinary hearing and sued his employer for racial discrimination, harassment and unfair dismissal.

But all his claims were eventually dismissed by the tribunal.

Referring to Gary Coleman’s allegation, Judge Robin Postle said: “[Mr Ononye] was annoyed because he thought he was being ridiculed for it [his] Height. Apparently, Mr. Coleman was of short stature.

“The picture in no way indicates that Mr. Coleman is of short stature.”

And on his eventual dismissal, the judge said the company had the right to consider a refusal to be searched as gross misconduct.

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Justin Scacco

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