A white worker at a firm producing Asian food was racially discriminated against after his supervisor told him to “go and work for an English company”.
Claire Davies Director and Employment & HR Solicitor reports.
The case involved Colin Sorby who worked at Mumtaz Foods on a zero-hour contract with Bradford Management Services.
In October 2019, his supervisor Azeem Akhtar told him that Mumtaz Foods was an Asian company and he should go and work for an English company.
Sorby reported the incident to the firm’s HR department on the same day.
Two weeks later he had a meeting with Paulo Silva from HR to discuss an issue with productivity.
Sorby said that the issue was due to a faulty machine, which he had already complained about. Silva didn’t include the complaint about the machine in his report but did note that Sorby’s attendance was ‘not exemplar’.
This marked the first time in Sorby’s employment that his attendance or performance had come under review.
Following the meeting, Sorby was placed ‘on call’ and would not be offered anymore work due to his performance level and attendance record.
Akhtar told Silva that as Sorby was English rather than Asian, he “didn’t know the cuisine and didn’t know how to cook food properly”.
When Sorby learned of this he raised a grievance of racially motivated discrimination. He was then invited to attend a meeting about his own alleged gross misconduct, which left him feeling victimised.
Sorby was dismissed and he then brought a claim against Mumtaz Foods.
The Employment Tribunal ruled in his favour, with Judge Smith saying: “The motivation for inviting the claimant (Sorby) to an investigatory meeting to address unspecified gross misconduct was in reality to seek to persuade him to withdraw his grievance, which contained serious allegations of race discrimination.
“There was no reason why the grievance could not have been processed. As part of any investigation into alleged conduct by the claimant to Mr Akhtar the relationship between the parties would need to be examined. The claimant’s grievance clearly was therefore relevant.”
Compensation will be decided at a separate remedy hearing.
If you would like more information about the issues raised in this article or any aspect of employment law please contact Claire on 01228 585245.