Advice Clinic - Unfair Dismissal and Discrimination

The claimant, who was black, was employed for 9 months as a mental health lead to provide care to patients needing mental health interventions. During her employment she claims she was offered and accepted a manager role which involved running a challenging behaviour unit. Following a meeting with her employer in June 2012 she claims the company demoted her from the Manager role as a result of staff complaints concerning her conduct. In this meeting she verbally resigned and claims the employer asked her to reconsider and offered her a junior manager post which she accepted, only to find one month into the post she was told she was being demoted again back to the original mental health lead role due to financial difficulties in the care home. She was subsequently dismissed for various misconduct allegations which the care home felt would threaten the safety of particular vulnerable service users. The claimant alleged she was unfairly dismissed and that she suffered race discrimination. The key issues for the tribunal to determine were:
  • Was she discriminated against and dismissed on the grounds of her race?
  • Was she a manager and was her demotion linked to her colour?
  • Did she suffer any form of different treatment to her colleagues?
The tribunal found that the employer did appoint two other members of staff into team leader roles which did not include the claimant’s responsibilities on other units, so it was clearly not an appointment into the claimant’s role and no examples were provided to determine any cross over in tasks. They therefore found that no demotion had taken place. The Tribunal next considered the questions about the comparators required in making out a discrimination claim, and found that the employer had recruited one black employee and one white employee. Based on the evidence provided it was concluded there was a relatively mixed level of staff working in roles at all levels and therefore they had some evidence to show black staff were promoted in the same way as other staff of ethnic minorities. They also considered other inconsistent treatment the claimant had raised, such as her not being issued a written contract as other staff had and not being invited to a 3 month probation review meeting with the right to be accompanied as other white English staff had. The findings on these aspects was the claimant was not provided with a written contract for a junior management position because by the time anything needed to be provided her job title had reverted to that of mental health lead and with her agreement. She gave insufficient evidence to show anybody else that had been treated differently with respect to these particular aspects. Regarding the claims for direct/indirect discrimination, the Tribunal was satisfied that as the claimant could not show a provision, criterion or practice that a person needs to be a white European to be promoted to a higher grade. They heard no evidence on the different levels of qualification between different manager roles, but there was evidence to show black staff had been promoted and the company did employ mixed staff at all levels.

Suggested Resources