An interesting story appeared in today’s Independent newspaper about allegations of racism directed against the office of Tom Watson MP, the Deputy Leader of the UK Labour Party.
The allegations (and they are allegations I would stress at this point) concern claims by a former employee of Mr Watson’s that she was unfairly selected for redundancy. Sarah Goulbourne, the former employee in question is alleging that she lost her post because of her race and/or ethnicity (she is of Afro-Caribbean descent). A person’s race is, of course, a protected characteristic in terms of the Equality Act 2010 and s/he has a right not to be subjected to unlawful discrimination or less favourable treatment.
A link to the story can be found below:
In terms of the Employment Rights Act 1996, redundancy can be a potentially fair reason for dismissing an employee – if handled correctly and fairly.
If, however, a person was selected for redundancy because they possessed a protected characteristic such as race, this would be extremely problematic for the employer. If racial discrimination could be proved by the ex-employee, the dismissal or termination of the contract on grounds of redundancy would almost certainly be automatically unfair.
Employers can access very useful advice about redundancy handling (and presumably how to get it right) from the ACAS website:
It will be interesting to see if the case proceeds any further.
Copyright Seán J Crossan, 27 March 2019