Fri 6 Feb 2004
"Mystifying, irrational, unreasonable, unfair, cynical, spurious,
aggravated and illegal"
Employment Tribunal finds race discrimination in Glasgow City
Council Asylum Project
The Employment Tribunal in Glasgow delivered a scathing attack
on the employment practices of Glasgow City Council yesterday when
it held that UNISON Scotland member Kuldip Dhesi experienced race
discrimination in his application to the Council's Asylum Seeker
The tribunal issued a damning judgement on a series of council
failures as various managers failed on repeated occasions to follow
basic policy or the requirements of discrimination law. Kuldip Dhesi,
42, was already an established and effective senior manager at the
council when he applied to work with asylum seekers.
His rival was a white woman with no comparable management experience
but who shared an office with the chair of the recruitment panel.
The tribunal accepted Mr Dhesi's core claim that the recruitment
panel fiddled the scores to boost her application despite the fact
that she was unconvincing at interview.
Bizarrely, the panel chair claimed that Mr Dhesi didn't understand
work with asylum seekers, and admitted deducting marks from him
when he said that race issues were key to the success of the project.
He also penalised Mr Dhesi's aspiration to help asylum seekers with
benefit and employment issues.
At the time of the interview asylum seekers had the equality,
employment and benefit rights Mr Dhesi described.
The tribunal decided the panel's position was mystifying and that
race discrimination was the only appropriate finding. The tribunal
decision contains further embarrassment for the council. Kuldip
Dhesi had also complained that his grievance claim was illegally
stalled because the council didn't want to hear a claim about racism.
The council argued that Mr Dhesi gave up his right to make such
In a highly unusual verdict, the tribunal dismissed the council's
defence pointing out that it was obviously false and that the council
themselves could not have believed their case to be true at the
time it had been advanced. It was a cynical attempt on the part
of the council to justify themselves by putting forward spurious
Kuldip Dhesi said "This should never have taken three years. On
the eve of the first day's evidence I went to the Chief Executive
and two of his directors. I offered to drop my tribunal claim if
they would listen to my internal grievance. They said no. I couldn't
believe it then and I can't believe it now. Over three years and
after thousands of pounds of expense we arrive at the only logical
explanation for this sequence of events. Back in October 2000 I
blew the whistle and asked internal audit to look into this to avoid
wasting time and money.
"The discrimination was awful but I genuinely think the victimisation
is worse. When I knew what was happening to me I went to the Scottish
head of asylum work. He did nothing. I went to my own head of service
in Social Work, he did nothing. In the course of the months ahead
my complaint crossed the desk of at least six further senior officers.
None of them recognised or faced up to the obvious discrimination
in this case. The language on the tribunal decision says it all.
The recruitment process was irrational, unreasonable, mystifying
and there wasn't a shred of evidence to support the appointment
of the successful candidate. The scary thing for black people in
Glasgow is that the tribunal could identify discrimination that
none of these council managers or directors could see.
"There have been countless reviews and reports before but I genuinely
believe an external expert must be given the task of going over
this sequence of events and then instruct the council how to implement
its equality agenda. The paper commitment is there but it doesn't
work in practice. I worked happily for the council and was genuine
in my wish to promote equality but finally I had to walk away and
challenge discrimination from the outside. Little has changed in
the last 20 years. Mr Dhesi also praised his union UNISON who pursued
the case for over three years.
"UNISON has backed this case all the way. It is important that
employees facing discrimination are members of their trade union
as it would have been impossible for me to take this on alone."
For Further Information Please Contact: Peter Hunter (Legal Officer)
0845 355 0845(w) 07740 167 777 (m) Chris Bartter (Communications
Officer) 0845 355 0845(w) 0771 558 3729(m)