Sainsbury’s worker unfairly sacked for BLM comment about cuddly toy

A Sainsbury’s worker who was fired for making a comment about Black Lives Matter was unfairly dismissed, an employment court has ruled. 

Marian Cunnington was sacked on July 2 last year, after a colleague heard her talking about a cuddly toy rabbit which is a character from a popular BBC children’s show called Bing Bunny. 

The price checker said she picked up the toy, on June 11, and said: ‘Should we really be selling this toy? Black Lives Matter.’ 

But a colleague thought she heard the mum say: ‘I’m offended Black Lives Matter?’ and reported it as racist, The Mirror reported.

That same day Sainsbury’s suspended Ms Cunnington from her 28-year career at the grocery store in Bridgnorth, Shropshire.

She was fired less than three weeks later but now a court has slammed the shop’s operations manager for this decision, calling it an ‘unacceptable procedural error’. 

The manager was not able to explain what was racist about the words, ‘I’m offended Black Lives Matter?’ Judge Richardson said last month. 

But the judge did recognise ‘sensitivities’ were heightened at the time – just a few weeks after George Floyd was murdered on May 25.

‘These companies want to be seen to be doing the right thing but that was at my expense,’ Ms Cunnington told The Mirror. 

The woman, who now works at Marks and Spencer, said: ‘I’m not a racist and I’m a really good worker.

 ‘I was actually standing up for BLM. It was very hard but then I knew that I hadn’t said anything racist.’ 

She later explained to the tribunal she had thought the toy could be racist in the same way as Robertson’s jam mascot – a golliwog doll considered racist for its exaggerated appearance offensively resembling stereotypical black features.