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23.11.18

Former King’s College FT manager awarded £1m in racial discrimination case

A former IT manager has been awarded £1m in compensation after an employment tribunal found an NHS trust dismissed him unfairly and racially discriminated against him.

Richard Hastings, the former manager at King’s College Hospital NHS FT, had worked for the trust for almost two decades but was dismissed in October 2015 on the grounds of gross misconduct following an incident in the hospital car park with a contractor and a delivery van driver.

Hastings was accused of assault after attempting to take a note of the van’s registration number, and to defend himself after the delivery driver racially abused and assaulted him.

The tribunal heard how Hastings had called the hospital’s security office for help, but no record of the phone call was logged – but the hospital confirmed it had received the call, and nobody came to his aid.

The tribunal found that following the incident, Hastings told his colleagues what had happened and reported it. But after the allegation was made from the contractors that Hastings had assaulted the driver, he was suspended. After the trust’s investigation, Hastings was dismissed on the grounds of gross misconduct.

Hastings’ employment lawyer Louise Brown and paralegal Carole Spencer of Excello Law argued that the trust’s disciplinary process had painted him as “the aggressor,” although CCTV footage reportedly showed this not to be the case, and the contractors as “the victims.”

Crucially, the ‘catalogue of failings’ the tribunal found in the processes of the foundation trust was found to show a difference in treatment between the contractors and Hastings, a British man of Caribbean descent – who, according to evidence, was treated with unwarranted distrust and disbelief.

The tribunal found that Hastings was an honest witness, whilst identifying numerous inconsistencies and flaws in the opposing evidence.

The judgement, reported on by The Guardian, said: “The tribunal has found as a fact that during the investigatory hearing the claimant provided evidence of racial abuse and of foul and offensive language being directed at him, but this was not investigated. We conclude that by failing to investigate this the claimant was treated less favourably because of race.”

A spokesperson for the trust said: “The trust has apologised to Mr Hastings and we would like to extend that apology once again.

“King’s is proud to be a major multicultural employer serving one of the most diverse communities in the UK and has implemented a number of changes to improve the support given to its staff.”

Paralegal Spencer said: “This case highlights the ease with which companies acting without sufficient care can action disciplinary processes that are, on closer examination, discriminatory. 

“Every advisory or decision-making role in disciplinary procedures carries the responsibility of reviewing all the evidence, or lack of evidence, and questioning any omissions or potential bias to avoid fundamentally affecting the outcome.”

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Image credit: Whitemay

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