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Racial comments resulted in a successful claim of unfair dismissal

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A recent ruling of Bristol employment tribunal has found a secretary successful in her claim of unfair dismissal, due to her decision to resign, following her employer reportedly stating that she would “not hire someone that was black.”

The claimant reportedly worked for a care home from November 2015 and as part of her role she was required to assist the regional manager with recruitment. On this particular occasion, the claimant received a referral from an agency to fill the home manager position that they were advertising and the claimant thought that the candidate that was referred, interviewed well and was very impressed by the candidate’s standard. She therefore recommended the candidate to her managing director who agreed to interview her upon her return from her holidays.

It is understood that the following day, the claimant and the managing director were discussing the candidate’s suitability during a telephone call and it was at this point that the managing director discovered the candidate’s ethnic origin. It was alleged that the managing director expressed racial prejudice to the claimant, who therefore became concerned about the fairness of the care home’s recruitment process.

It is reported that subsequently, the claimant prepared a speech to her managing director which stated “I know  that residents in the past have not liked being cared for by black people and I know this has effected your decision regarding the candidate, therefore I am really struggling with this decision… I know you are not racist but this opinion by the residents is influencing you and it is making the employment process… difficult with the law regarding equality and racism”. Her managing director responded by specifically stating that she did not want to hire the candidate “because she was black” and she therefore did not like her and was not having her as a manager.

The claimant therefore determined that she was setting the candidate up for an interview, when a pre-determined decision had been made by the managing director based on the candidate’s race. The claimant therefore found her employment to be untenable at this time as she was being asked to be complicit in discriminatory working practices. The claimant therefore left for the day and subsequently resigned from her role. The claimant did not serve her notice period as she felt it to be inappropriate to do so, given the reasons for which, she had resigned.

The claimant was so concerned for the candidate that she contacted her directly and informed her that if she was offered a second interview, she would not be successful due to her race and the claimant explained to the candidate that she had resigned as a result of becoming aware of the same.

Upon detailed consideration of the facts and witness evidence, the employment tribunal ruled that the claimant had been unfairly dismissed due to the circumstances that led to her resignation and they ruled that she was entitled to terminate her employment without serving notice, again as a result of her employer’s conduct. The employment judge specifically stated that the racially charged actions of the managing director, had “utterly undermined” the claimant’s trust in her employer. The remedy hearing is to be scheduled in early course to determine the claimant’s compensation.

Stephensons offer a variety of services which could assist you if you have been subjected to the same or similar treatment as the claimant or candidate were found to have suffered in the above referenced matter.

Race discrimination claims must be brought in the employment tribunal within three months less one day of the estimated date of termination and/or discriminatory act. You should therefore contact us as soon as possible on 01616 966 229 for our specialist team to provide you with further advice.