Race discrimination at work: giving people a fair hearing

In the latest in our series of legal advice columns from the South West London Law Centre, LANCE BAYNHAM, discrimination caseworker, pictured right, gives examples of race discrimination cases the team is working on and explains what to do if you have been unfairly treated at work as a result of your race

We are currently representing a black woman in her tribunal claim against her former employer.

She put up with racist comments from her manager for years. These largely involved suggestions that black people were more likely to be violent and criminals.

Given that these comments were coming from her manager, understandably she never complained about the behaviour. She was worried about the repercussions it might have for her career.

She then went for a promotion.

Although she was told she interviewed brilliantly, the other candidate was more experienced and was offered the role. This other candidate then turned down the opportunity, and our client “acted up” into the role. Her employer then interviewed for the position again.

Our client had, by this point, been performing the role for six months. On this occasion, while she was told she had all the experience, the job went to a less qualified white person.

We are representing our client in negotiating considerable compensation in settlement of the claim.

Unfairly dismissed on account of race

In the case of a second client, they got into an argument with a colleague who used deeply offensive and racist language towards him.

Although a manager was immediately called, nothing happened to the colleague and the investigation never reached any conclusion.

Sometime later, following a separate incident with a customer, our client was dismissed and the racist language incident was cited as an example of his aggressive behaviour.

We are assisting him to bring his claim (of which unfair dismissal is a part) through the employment tribunal.

Bringing a claim: If you think you have been discriminated against on account of race, you need to act quickly as there may be time-barring issues depending on how long ago the events happened. You should also gather as much evidence as you can and you need to notify ACAS before bringing your claim.

Previous SWLLC advice articles:

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About insidecroydon

News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
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2 Responses to Race discrimination at work: giving people a fair hearing

  1. Peter Gentleman says:

    The manager should be sacked.

  2. Lewis White says:

    Thank you Lance and thanks Inside Croydon for this revealing and hope-giving article.
    I have realised over the years that the struggle against racism, sexism and other forms of discrimination has to continue, into the future, as people in every new generation will need to confront their own prejudices and the inherited contemporary cultural pressures of their own times.

    The good news is that in the last 100 years, and particularly the last 20 or so years, society in the UK seems to have improved, with a genuine improvement in terms of reduced discrimination in many areas of life.

    This is due mainly to people like Lance, and the brave people — victims and whistleblowers- who have decided to stand up to bullying, overt and covert discrimination and other abuse in any form.
    Plus, it must be said, exceptional politicians and people like Union reps. in the workplace.

    Sadly, in this same period, black people and other minorities have suffered from discrimination by unions and by institutions and certain politicians.

    One key figure who lived and worked in our own area of London, who strove to overcome such discrimination was Jamaican-born Dr. Harold Moody, who became not only a much-loved 1930’s- 60’s South London GP, but co-founder of the League of Coloured Peoples, who did a huge amount of self-sacrificial work to further the rights of Black and mixed race people including seafarers, and helped confront and overcome the “colour bar”– a disgraceful and long-running British example of such overt and covert discrimination.

    The world needs more heroes like Dr Moody. One hopes that in our lifetmes, discrimination will be defeated, and that society will become fairer and kinder, but it is going to take continued efforts and a lot of courage from modern heroes like Lance Baynham and his clients, to achieve this, not to forget the support of all of us.

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