Woman horrified as colleagues recorded saying 'black people have a smell' in racist rant
A black woman has shared a recording in which colleagues are heard making appalling racist remarks like “black people have a smell about them”.
Janika Frimpong, 25, says she unintentionally left her phone recording as she left her desk at work - only to later find it had recorded a racist exchange between two fellow workers.
In a voice recording, multiple racist comments can be heard such as "you know black girls, they don’t wash their hair."
Janika was working as a receptionist at services company Mitie who provided outsourced reception and concierge services to Legal & General.
Janika claims she became so distressed by the comments it affected her mental health and she left her job on January 10.
She told The Mirror: “I felt drained and unhappy working there and at times I would have panic attacks from the sheer hurt."
Janika bravely shared the horrific voice recording taken in December in which two women can be heard having a racist exchange.
“Do you feel like, I don’t want to be rude, but she has a smell about her, like a fried oil smell, is it just me," the first woman says.
“I don’t know, it is a strong smell, I don’t know if it’s oil," the second woman replies.
“Or if it’s like a lotion," the first voice adds.
“It could be cocoa butter," the second replies.
“Black people have a smell about them," the first woman says.
The second woman then says: “We were talking about cocoa butter, maybe it’s that, mixed with -
“Something else, hair gel or something," the first adds.
“Oh yeah maybe yeah," the second woman says.
“You know some people smell clean and fresh, that’s one thing, this is something else. She’s not here though, she went toilet or something," the first woman says.
One of the women then laughs in the recording.
Referring to the shocking recording she shared online, Janika, from Waltham Cross, Hertfordshire told The Mirror: “I usually take notes on my phone for work purposes and on this occasion, I had been doing that but needed to pop to the toilet; forgetting I had the recording still running.
“To my surprise when [later] I went over my voice notes I heard two employees saying racist remarks such as; ‘black people have a smell about them,’ ‘black people don't wash their hair’ amongst other things about myself.
“I instantly went into a state of distress and discomfort - I even tried to brush it off for a few days but I just couldn't do it anymore as my mental health was being severely affected as I couldn't stand to go into that work environment.
“I felt drained and unhappy working there and at times I would have panic attacks from the sheer hurt that two people of colour could say these things about me for no apparent reason.
“This is also the first time I have ever experienced racism and discrimination such as this in the workplace.”
She added: "Outside of work, I constantly felt sad, as the incident would keep replaying in my mind.
"I had never experienced anything like this so it was a lot to take in. It was a struggle going back into the office every day."
Janika said she was training at work, and wanted to record the notes to listen to later at home.
She says: "I went to the bathroom and I left it on by accident."
"Then when I went home to listen to the notes I overheard the people speak," she told The Mirror.
Within a few weeks she left her job because of the distress and shared her story to raise awareness of what happened.
Janika recently graduated from an IT degree with a 2.1 from the University of West London.
She said she was issued a temporary contract of employment with Mitie and started at Legal & General and enjoyed the job at first, thinking it would be great work experience for her.
“Little did I know that a few months in, things would turn out like this,” she said.
In a tweet on Monday January 10, she wrote: “I didn’t want to have to bring this to Twitter.
“However I felt there was no other way to show everyone the racists and bullies @landg_group employ to represent them."
Janika’s tweets prompted an outpouring of support for her, with utter shock at the recording and many sorry to hear what she had been through.
Legal & General replied to her tweets on the same day saying: “I’m very concerned to see this and am keen to know more detail. If you could kindly DM us with your details and I will speak to HR about this immediately.”
" We are upset & saddened to hear about your experience. The allegations are appalling & are not reflective of us or our culture.
“We have an internal investigation underway to identify all individuals concerned & we will do all we can to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”
After The Mirror approached Legal & General for further comment, a spokesperson said: “We have investigated this issue and can confirm the person making the complaint was not an L&G employee but a temporary contractor employed by Mitie.
"Mitie provide outsourced reception and concierge services to L&G. The two individuals against whom the allegations were made are also Mitie employees. Mitie are now conducting a full internal investigation.
"We are in close contact with Mitie during the process and we have made it very clear that we expect all our contractors to operate to the standards we expect of our own employees.”
A spokesperson for Mitie told The Mirror: "As a business that is committed to ensuring a company culture where every colleague can bring their true self to work, we were very concerned to hear about this incident. "There is no place for racism, bullying or discrimination in our business. An investigation into this incident is already underway.”