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DH has been accused of racial discrimination

(10 Posts)
Greatfun Thu 25-Jun-09 08:44:22

DH is a manager and unfortunately had to make several people redundant this year. One of these people was a long term worker but on a contract basis rather than a permenent basis. This person has now written to the company via a lawyer saying he believes he was discriminated against on the basis of race. DH has not seen the actual letter but has been asked by his HR dpt to respond to several quetions that they have drawn from the original letter. DH's company has no union representation. The questions include; How many other people were made redundant and what race were they? My fear is that answering these querstions without first getting legal advice may implicate my husband further. I ahve asked DH to request the orignal letter so he fully understands the accusation before he answers questions that another person (in HR) has asked.

DH is taking this all very personally and not dealing with it well. He is very stressed as it is at the moment and really doesn't need this as well. I know he hasn't done what was claimed.

Does anyone know where we can further advice. Is DHs company being reasonable in the way they are dealing with this? DHs boss hadn't even spoken to him about it which I find very unprofessional.I understand that DHs company will send the answers to the questions and the letter from the complainant to a law firm they employ before responding.

flowerybeanbag Thu 25-Jun-09 09:01:14

I would suggest he formally requests in writing to have a copy of the letter if he personally is being accused of discrimination.

However I'm not sure how giving factual answers to questions about numbers of people redundant and their race will implicate him further? It sounds as the moment as though they are just getting their facts together and your DH is being asked some straightforward questions as part of this.

Was your DH the one making all the decisions about who was to be made redundant? Was a proper fair process used and clear and fair selection criteria used to choose who was made redundant?

trixymalixy Thu 25-Jun-09 09:51:40

How stressful for your poor DH!!! His manager and HR should really be giving him some more support over this

Surely as a contractor, he would have been the first to go anyway no matter what!?!?

Something similar happened to a friend of mine. Someone who had interviewed for a job unsuccesfully at his business claimed racial discrimination was the reason for him not getting the job. Was totally ridiculous as his name was very obviously foreign and he had sent a photo with his CV so if they had been racist he wouldn't have got to interview stage.

It sounds like the guy is pissed off at not getting any redundancy money and wants some financial gain from it.

flowerybeanbag Thu 25-Jun-09 09:56:29

Not necessarily trixy, no. 'Contractor' is a loose term and if someone has been there a long time as the OP says this person was, the fact that they haven't been given a permanent contract doesn't mean they don't have rights. Fixed term employees have protection against being treated less favourably anyway and without knowing more about the circumstances of this person's employment and of the redundancies it's impossible to tell whether this person should have been made redundant or not.

Greatfun Thu 25-Jun-09 15:19:34

Thanks for your replies. They are much appreciated. From what I gather this person was working on a contract basis via an IT agency. DH didn't renew his contract rather than him being made redundant. This was simply because they didn't need his skills any longer. Dh also had to make 3 permenant people redundant about a month later. This was all in line with normal redundancy procedure and as far as I know everything was done properly.

The comment re: incriminating himself. What I meant was what if 6 people were made redundant and a majority just happened to be of one race. Will this just make DH look as though he were discriminating? I know he took alot of time over his decision and felt very sad about it all at the time but of course accepts its part of the job.

flowerybeanbag Thu 25-Jun-09 15:35:36

It won't look as if he was discriminating just because a majority of people being made redundant happen to be of one race, no. It might if there was no transparent skills/experience/attendance/whatever-based selection criteria and it's not clear how people were chosen, but assuming there was a proper process it should be easy to see that the decisions were taken fairly.

At the moment he is just being asked to state facts, not give reasons or explanations or anything else. Stating the facts won't incriminate him - they are not subjective in any way. Presumably it would be relatively easy to find out those details from someone else anyway so your DH doesn't gain anything by withholding that information.

But it sounds as though this person wasn't involved in the redundancy process anyway...?It sounds as though he may have been a 'worker' legally, in which case his employment rights are a bit limited, for example he can't claim unfair dismissal in a redundancy situation. But he does have protection against discrimination, which I imagine is why he is claiming it - because there's not a lot else he can claim.

Greatfun Thu 25-Jun-09 16:02:43

Thanks FBG. As usual you are spot on. DH isn't witholding anything, he's just panicking because he is not getting much support. I just wanted to check that his company are dealing with this properly. I have again suggested he gets hold of the original letter. Quite aside, DH is shocked seeing as he negotiated a very good salary raise for this person only last year.

RibenaBerry Thu 25-Jun-09 16:32:19

I also wanted to add that it's a bog standard negotiating tactic by some lawyers to allege racial discrimination. If the employee is from a minority racial group, they'll allege racial discrimination. If the person is female they'll allege sex. If they have depression, they'll allege disability...

This is all to try and bump up/extract a settlement payment and it doesn't even necessarily mean the individual believes that there was discrimination, let alone the lawyer.

That might help your DH put it in perspective - like anything in business, it's a negotiation and they're trying to play their cards!

RibenaBerry Thu 25-Jun-09 16:33:23

Sorry, that wasn't very clear. The individual may, of course, also believe with all their heart and soul that it was about race. It's just that at least 50% of the time it's not that clear cut...

flowerybeanbag Thu 25-Jun-09 16:41:59

He should absolutely be getting reasonable support, especially from his boss, and needs to push for clarity on exactly what the allegations actually are, his involvement specifically.

As Ribena says, it may well be a case of chucking anything they can at the employer, and in the event of a worker with limited rights who happens to be from a minority group, race is one of the few cards they do have.

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