A ex-employee of Hertfordshire County Council has succeeded in a claim of direct racial discrimination against his former employer, reports People Management. He had also claimed victimisation, constructive unfair dismissal and racial discrimination, but these claims were rejected by the employment tribunal.
Vernon Edwards, who is of Caribbean descent, had worked for the council for around three and a half year as a wheelchair engineer. He claimed that colleagues would regularly imitate his accent in a mocking way and make racial comments and his manager would do nothing to prevent it.
He raised a grievance, but the investigative officer concluded there was no evidence that the manager allowed racist behaviour amongst his staff. However, she did recommend that staff be better trained in diversity and inclusion.
Mr Edwards resigned after unsuccessfully appealing the grievance finding, and subsequently brought a claim to Watford Employment Tribunal.
He was awarded £11,505 after the tribunal agreed he had been the victim of direct racial discrimination.
The issue of racial discrimination has recently been raised by the TUC, which highlighted that Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BME) people continue to face discrimination at work in many different ways, including:
- Employment pay gap: black workers get paid 8.3% less than white workers – costing them an average of £1.15 an hour.
- Type of employment: BME workers are over a third more likely than white workers to be stuck in temporary or zero-hours work.
- Abuse at work: more than a third (37%) of BME workers have been bullied, abused or singled out at work.
“Racism has no place in the modern workplace – or wider society. Bullying, harassment and victimisation is undermining, humiliating, and can have a huge effect on mental health,” said TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady.
“Employers must take a zero-tolerance attitude to racism and treat every complaint seriously,” she added. “It’s a scandal that so few black and Asian workers feel their bosses are not dealing with racism properly.”
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