So what does a Grammar Racist look like?

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I have heard of Grammar Nazis but until yesterday I had not heard of Grammar Racists. Apparently correcting someone’s grammar is not just rude, it is actually racist if the person you are correcting was not born in your country or is bi-lingual.



A lawyer ordered to pay $7500 compensation for racial harassment and bullying a Sudanese-born law clerk says he was only correcting his grammar.

A decision from the Employment Relations Authority (ERA) found that John Appleby, the sole director and practitioner at Ladbrook Law in Auckland, had unfairly discriminated against his former employee, Rabah Bashir.

Appleby said on Friday he disputed the claim of racism and was due to lodge an appeal.

The case related to his former employee Bashir, who emigrated from Sudan aged 11, graduated with a law degree from Wellington’s Victoria University in 2013 and started working for Appleby in September 2013 as a law clerk.

Bashir and Appleby initially had a collegial relationship, the ERA decision said.

However that changed from June 2014 onwards, with Bashir citing several examples where Appleby corrected his written English.

The decision said Appleby made comments to Bashir that “bilingual speakers have weaknesses in both languages” and “written English can at times be difficult for non-native speakers”.

They had an argument on October 21, 2014 where Appleby was said to have been “agitated” and “raised his voice to Mr Bashir”.

Appleby apologised to Bashir that day and arranged for the pair to meet with his wife, who was responsible for HR matters.

Bashir was made redundant at the end of 2014 in a restructuring due to business viability.

He then took his case to the Employment Relations Authority.

ERA member Tania Tetitaha ruled “there was evidence Mr Bashir was hurt by the respondent’s behaviour”.

And she said: “There was no evidential foundation for Mr Appleby to comment upon Mr Bashir’s racial background including in particular his bilingualism when critiquing his work performance”.

Tetitaha also found there was no contributing factors to warrant the racial harassment.

However, on the claim of bullying she said there was evidence that “Mr Bashir was being somewhat belligerent at times in his dealings with Mr Appleby causing the outbursts. This was both causative and blameworthy behaviour and justifies a 25 percent reduction in compensation”.

Appleby told the ERA he “failed to accept the comments were offensive and hurtful”.

He said he was due to appeal the $7500 payment. “It sends a chilling message when correcting grammar leads to accusations of racism.”

– Stuff



For an interesting discussion about  racism and correcting grammar click here.


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