Top Gear—A Show of Car Reviews and Racial Slurs?

Top Gear, a British television program that has been on the air for nearly a decade and a half, has been lauded for its longevity and consistency. The show is watched by 350 million viewers in over 170 countries each week. The show’s iconic host, however, might find himself being driven off in the show’s reasonable priced car.

Jeremy Clarkson, no stranger to controversy, has been suspended from the beloved show “following a fracas” with a producer. Clarkson has been warned repeatedly in the past for unruly behavior, mostly of the racial slur kind, and was told one more infraction could lead to termination.

Clarkson is paid $1.5 million a year to host the show, which may seem small compared to many other television personalities. One has to bear in mind, however, that Clarkson hosts for the BBC, and at $1.5 million a year, he is one of the network’s highest earners. Despite his pay, Clarkson has a track record for upsetting producers and viewers with his politically incorrect remarks.

In January 2012, Clarkson made a remark about a car with a toilet installed while filming in India. Clarkson commented that the car was “perfect for India because everyone who comes here gets the trots.” Indian diplomats were not pleased with the announcer’s assessment. Around the same time, Clarkson made a derogatory comment about Mexicans as well.

In May 2014, Clarkson was slammed for using a derogatory slang term that referred to a member of the Traveler Community. The footage was not meant to be a part of the show, but Clarkson apologized regardless.

Finally, last fall, Clarkson and film crew were chased out of Argentina, igniting Anglo-Argentinian tension, for a license plate that referenced the Falklands Islands’ war of 1982. The plate read H982 FLK; it was interpreted as a dig on Argentina for Britain’s victory in the war. With a cheeky response, Clarkson claimed he had no idea what the plate meant.

Clarkson, himself, is already joking about his possible termination. He tweeted, “Applicant [for Top Gear host] should be old, badly dressed and pedantic but capable of getting to work on time.”

Supporters of the show and of Clarkson are up in arms, already petitioning for his return. The show has been canceled for the remainder of the season (or series as it is called in Britain). In the United States, namely California, an employee has the right to work in an environment that is free from discrimination. Derogatory racist slurs may constitute as creating a hostile work environment based on race. If this incident took place in the US, could Clarkson have made his network liable for racial discrimination claims from other employees? Possibly.

If you feel you have been subjected to racial discrimination in the workplace, contact an Aegis attorney to see if we can help.

Source: New York Times