Race discrimination case to ‘go on and on’

Posted: 13th September 2013

EATAfter what is believed to be the longest-running race discrimination case ever, an academic who was turned down for a college lectureship 14 years ago has failed to convince the Employment Appeal Tribunal that his £25,787 compensation award was nowhere near enough for what he suffered.

The space engineering expert, of Ethiopian origin, was refused the lectureship after being interviewed by an arts and technology college as long ago as September 1999. In November the following year, an employment tribunal found that he had been the victim of direct race discrimination.

However, the dispute then went to sleep for six years as the academic, who was suffering from depression, delayed the pursuit of his case to a remedies hearing. A tribunal struck out his claim in 2006 on grounds that the matter had been going on for so long that a fair trial was no longer possible.

That decision was overturned by the Court of Appeal in 2009 and the saga continued. After an eight-day hearing, a tribunal awarded the academic £25,787 in damages in January 2012. The award comprised £4,000 for personal injury, £4,000 for injury to feelings, £10,581 for loss of earnings and interest.

But that did not bring an end to the matter and the academic appealed against the award to the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT), arguing that the discrimination had had such a devastating impact on his career prospects and health that he should have been awarded more than £1 million.

Dismissing his challenge, however, the EAT ruled that his claim for £533,000 for 'injury to feelings' was 'way outside the range' for a one-off act of race discrimination. His bid for another £529,000 to reflect career loss of earnings was also 'out of the question' and his overall award was ‘just and equitable’.

The academic retained the opportunity to challenge the EAT’s decision in the Court of Appeal and the presiding judge remarked, "He told me that this was the longest running race discrimination claim ever and that this will go on and on. I imagine that he means that this appeal against the remedy will go further."