Thursday 14 January 2010
MAJOR RACIAL HARASSMENT CASE WON BY CITIZENS ADVICE CLIENT
A hospital porter helped by his local Citizens Advice Bureau was today awarded £35,700 after winning a major racial harassment and unfair dismissal case against his employer, a contractor for the NHS.
The award, which was announced today (Wednesday 13 January) by Judge Manley at Watford Employment Tribunal, is one of the highest payments a defendant can be awarded in this type of case.
The award came after Mr Elon De Oliveira (41), who worked as a porter for Synergy PLC, an NHS contractor, won his claim for racial harassment and unfair dismissal against his employer despite being told,”nobody is going to believe you”.
Citizens Advice Bureaux have a vital role in helping clients challenge discrimination and harassment. Last year CAB advisers dealt with over 20,000 employment discrimination enquiries, an 18% increase compared with the previous year.
The amount awarded was based on evidence heard at an employment Tribunal in May 2009 which found that Mr De Oliveira had been racially harassed on an almost daily basis over a two-year period by a father and son manager and supervisor. The tribunal heard that Mr De Oliveira was often pushed around whilst being verbally abused and his pay was stopped as part of the harassment.
During the proceedings evidence emerged that Mr De Oliveira had complained to his managers about the harassment but was told to drop it. He then told the area manager he would seek legal advice, but was told that he would be a ‘fool to go down that route.” Synergy denied any wrong-doing and instructed a large city solicitors’ firm to defend the case. His Citizens Advice Bureau advised Mr De Oliveira that his claim was strong and urged him not to be bullied into withdrawing it.
Laurence Wilson, principal solicitor at Kensington and Chelsea CAB Service, who represented Mr De Oliveira, said, “We really welcome the outcome and the award, as my client has suffered a great deal over the past years. Discrimination of any kind should not be tolerated and I would urge people who have suffered any kind of discrimination to seek free, independent advice as soon as they can. People should not be bullied into silence.”
Mr Wilson added that the award comes as a result of a relatively new legal duty on public bodies now in force, ‘to eliminate discrimination’ among staff and sub-contractors. The NHS Trust in this case is now reviewing their contract with Synergy and, in the interim, has requested that they produce an action plan setting out how it will avoid any recurrence of this situation, including introducing equality training and anti-harassment policies.
For further information please contact the Citizens Advice Press office on 0207 833 7107 or Laurence Wilson, Principal Solicitor, Kensington and Chelsea CAB Service. 0207 598 4536.