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Discrimination Win at Camden Council

Friday, February 8, 2013

Damning employment tribunal judgement illustrates racism at Camden Council.

GMB won undisclosed compensation for GMB member for the ‘Direct Race Discrimination’ suffered during Camden Council’s recruitment and selection process at Environmental Services in May 2011.

GMB member Fraser Valdez whom is mixed race and from Tollington Park, London N4 has worked for Camden Council for 15 years and was consistently a high achiever.

Mr Valdez’s claim that he was treated less favourably on the grounds of his race by Camden managers during the recruitment and selection process, and which subsequently prevented him from obtaining a senior position within the organisation was upheld by the London Central Employment Tribunal on 5 October 2012 after a seven day hearing.

The racial discrimination was exposed in an anonymous letter from a ‘Whistle-Blower’ and was sent to the Director of the Culture and Environment Department, with additional documents compiled during the job interview process that also showed that Mr Valdez was the outright winner for the senior role, yet Camden managers awarded the job to a white colleague whom had scored less than him.

GMB will work with Camden Council in order to correct its policies and procedures and to discuss the following extract from the Tribunal judgment with Camden Council. The extract read:-

"In determining whether the onus has shifted, we have noted seven particular factors which tend to support the Claimant’s case. First, we have reminded ourselves of the profoundly unsatisfactory accounts given on behalf of the Respondents in answer to the Claimant’s concerns about Mr ***** score soon after the result was announced, in replies to Ms ***** and in evidence to the Tribunal. We found the case advanced at those three stages not merely flawed and contradictory but false. Second, we have had regard to the ethnic composition of the cohort of successful candidates for the SEMO posts (uniformly white). Third, we have borne in mind the racial composition of the decision-makers (also uniformly white). Fourth, there is the ethnic make-up of the upper levels of management with SES – again almost exclusively white. Fifth, we have noted the outcome of the selection of the North and South Teams. Here we have been struck not only by the remarkable racial divide (we can well understand the Claimant’s use of the word ‘segregation’) but also by the conspicuous lack of sensitivity to that state of affairs on the part of the Respondents’ witnesses (especially Mr ***** and Mr *****, who could see no possible ground for concern). Sixth, we have noted various crucial decisions taken in relation to the reorganisation. The clearest breaches of the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR) Code of Practice on Employment 2011 were perpetuated time and time again." The Tribunal also had regard for the fact that there was a failure by Camden Council to respond to the Claimant's Equality Questionnaire. In doing so, we have not overlooked the untested explanation contained in Ms *****’s witness statement".

Tony Warr, GMB Senior Organiser said, “That telling extract from the Tribunal judgment says it all. GMB will work with Camden Council to help eradicate any racism and all forms of discriminationlinked to their employment practises. The Judgement is extremely critical of the Councils recruitment and selection processes and we hope that lessons will be learnt from this very sad case to ensure no other employee has to suffer the way that Mr Valdez has. Mr Valdez’s foresight in being a GMB member enabled the case to be brought and won. Anyone who does not have the protection of being a GMB member is unlikely to afford the cost of a lengthy legal case even where they know they are in the right. GMB and our solicitors EAD are proud to have taken and won the case with Mr Valdez."

Chris MacNaughton of EAD solicitors said, "It is incredibly difficult to show claims of ‘Direct Race Discrimination’ when such foul play occurs behind closed doors and no record of the discussions are made. If it was not for the whistle-blowers’ honesty the discrimination may never have been discovered and justice served."

Ends

Contact: Tony Warr GMB Senior Organiser on 07710 631336 or Chris McNaughton EAD Solicitors 07590 778597 or GMB Press Office: 07974 251823 or 07921 289880 or 020 7391 6755/56.

Notes to Editors

GMB is unable to publish the compensation amount under the terms of Camden Council’s gagging order.

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