The London Borough of Barking and Dagenham acted unlawfully when it dismissed three housing officers, an Employment Tribunal has ruled.
The ruling of the East London Employment Tribunal was handed down last month (27 December), following a hearing in October and November 2018.
The council dismissed the three employees in the summer of 2017, suggesting that their roles were redundant.
However, the Employment Judge ruled that in reality their roles were not redundant and that all three employees were unfairly dismissed.
The tribunal concluded that during the process, a senior member of the council’s management team had discriminated against one of the claimants because of his race. That particular claimant had come to the UK as a refugee in 1998 and worked for the council for 18 years.
Another claimant, who had worked for the council for 37 years, was dismissed because she worked part-time, the judge found.
The third claimant was also dismissed because she worked part-time. The Tribunal ruled that this was an act of disability discrimination.
The Employment Tribunal will decide the level of compensation that should be awarded at a hearing on 18 and 19 March 2019.
Annie Powell, a solicitor at Leigh Day who represented the three workers, said: “This is a damning judgment. For a local authority to discriminate against an employee because of his race and to dismiss employees simply because they worked part-time is deeply concerning.”
Tony Warr, Head of Legal in GMB London, which brought the claims, said: “This is a decision that should make all employers sit up and take stock of their selection procedures. On behalf of our three members, GMB Union had no hesitation in supporting these most meritorious cases.”
A spokesperson for Barking and Dagenham said: “We do not tolerate discrimination on any grounds and take our obligations as an employer very seriously.
“This matter dates back 18 months and since then a number of internal structural and staff changes have taken place.
“We are currently reviewing the findings of the employment tribunal in detail to consider our position, which will include the merits of an appeal and any learning we can take from this.”