WORKFORCE: The foundation has lost its appeal against an employment tribunal which awarded one of its former managers around £1m for unfair dismissal and racial discrimination.
Elliot Browne, former divisional director for clinical scientific services at the foundation, was awarded £933,115 by the tribunal.
CMUH did not contest the decision that Mr Browne had been wrongfully dismissed. But it claimed the tribunal had not properly considered whether his treatment was on racial grounds, and there was “insufficient grounds” to establish a finding of victimisation.
However, an employment appeals tribunal has now dismissed the appeal, concluding the original tribunal’s conclusions were based on “careful findings of fact”.
“The trust knows why it lost,” the appeals tribunal’s judgement states. It said the “extensive and detailed findings of primary fact” showed that:
- It treated Mr Browne “extremely unreasonably”
- The treatment “contrasted with its treatment of white British colleagues who were in a similar position”
- The treatment “took place against a background in which the Trust was unconcerned by statistics that showed black employees were many times more likely to be dismissed than their white colleagues and reacted negatively to complaints of race discrimination”
- The trust “was unable to explain why it had treated the Claimant in that unreasonable fashion”.
The tribunal had found that CMUH deputy chief executive Gill Heaton created an “intimidating atmosphere” for Mr Browne, repeatedly warning him his job was at risk over an overspend in his department, even before the trust’s formal “capability procedure” had begun. When similar overspends had emerged in the departments of two white British directors, she had simply increased one-to-one meetings with them and taken no further action, it found.
It also found that when Mr Browne submitted a grievance of unfair discrimination against Ms Heaton, human resources director Derek Welsh responded by telling Mr Browne he would be subject to an investigation to determine whether CMUH had the “necessary trust and confidence” in him. Mr Browne was later suspended, then dismissed.
Figures provided to the tribunal showed that black people made up just 3 to 5 per cent of CMUH’s employees after 2003, but 29 per cent of employees it dismissed in that period.
In a statement issued by his union, Unite, Mr Browne said: “Hopefully, my case will demonstrate to other NHS trust managers that racial discrimination won’t be tolerated. I now wish to move on with my life.”
The foundation said it was “disappointed” with the appeal outcome, but it had commissioned an independent review of its “equality and diversity processes”.
Chair Peter Mount said: “The trust takes its responsibilities as an equal opportunities employer extremely seriously.”
He added: “A formal report, outlining any other recommendations arising from the review, will be presented to the board in early summer.”
Unite press release (attached, right)
13 February 2012