A worker has been awarded £20,000 after laying claims of disability and race discrimination, harassment and unfair dismissal at his ex-employer.
Formerly employed by Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) as a car inspector, Paul Hoyte, took to an employment tribunal when he was dismissed by the firm.
He subsequently won claims for disability discrimination and harassment and was awarded £16,000, plus interest, for “injury to feelings.”
His claims for unfair dismissal and race discrimination were rejected.
Hoyte told the tribunal that a poster, which JLR claimed was created to discourage disruptive workforce behaviour, was deliberately brought to his attention.
The poster read: “Don’t let one bad apple spoil the bunch.” Hoyte alleges that a process leader asked him if he’d seen the poster and that the same leader asked a non-white colleague: “Have you heard about the black apple campaign?”
Jaguar Land Rover said the worker was dismissed on lack of capability after having a long absence with no prospects of returning to work.
They told the tribunal that the apple tree poster was not targeted at Mr Hoyte, nor was it racist. The company also claim that he was known as a “serial complainant” who was difficult to manage.
A 16-day employment hearing, involving 620 pages of evidence, listed the complaints that Hoyte made against the company. He alleged that “institutional racism” existed at Jaguar plants and there was no advance for certain employees unless you were “part of the gang”.
Furthermore, Hoyte complained he was called Abo, “Black Guy with a big Afro” and Chip, Chippo and Chipper.
Hoyte suffers from anxiety, depression and a bowel disorder. He accused workers of harassing him for going to the toilet. Prior to the tribunal, JLR offered Hoyte £30,000 but he rejected the offer.
According to the Birmingham Mail, the Tribunal judge, Mr Bryn Lloyd said: "The dismissal decision bore no traces of discrimination," adding that "the claimant was at all relevant times a very vulnerable person with a long-term mental illness.”
The JLR-Hoyte case highlights how important it is for companies to be perceived not to be discriminating against any members of their incumbent workforce or potential hires.
Recently, a factory worker was sacked after his ex-employer took a zero-tolerance approach to a “sexist” joke gone wrong.
Whilst Westminster City Council were sued after an employee believed he was being “racially segregated” due to the positioning of plant pots between desks.
Benyam Kenbata, a manager for the Council, spoke to The Evening Standard about the case: “I genuinely believed I was being unlawfully discriminated against.”
However, since 2013 there have been a 70% drop in the number of workforce tribunals. Unison claim that increased costs, of up to £1650, deter workers from fighting employment disputes.
The Equality Act 2010 protects staff from workplace discrimination. It allows employees to complain to the company, use mediation or make a claim in a court or tribunal.