A Muslim-run company based in the West Midlands have been ordered by the Employment Tribunal to pay a former employee thousands of pounds in compensation after he was successful in an Employment Tribunal claim.
Halal Food Group, based in the West Midlands, were sued by Mr Christoper Turton, 31, after he alleged that he had been racially discriminated against by colleagues at his workplace. The Halal Food Group supplies halal goods to supermarket chains and other outlets and Mr Turton was one of two white workers out of 300 employees at the firm at the time that the incident occurred. It is not known whether he consulted employment law solicitors but after the incident of discrimination he subsequently submitted a claim for race and religious discrimination to the Employment Tribunal.
The Employment Tribunal in Birmingham heard evidence that Mr Turton had joined the Halal Food Group in as a manager in 2009. He was subsequently promoted to National Concessions Manager but a number of employees at the firm complained by email that they believed that Mr Turton had been favoured in being awarded the new role. This email – which Mr Turton saw soon after it was sent at work – pointed out that Mr Turton was not a “Muslim brother” and asked whether Mr Turton was being favoured “because he is white?”. Mr Turton stated before the Tribunal that he had been extremely hurt by the comments in the email and believed that he was singled out because of his skin colour and his religion by his co-workers. The Tribunal also heard that Mr Turton found the email “extremely offensive” and that he was compelled to sign off work with stress and eventually resigned from the company. Based on the facts, Mr Turton could have submitted a claim for constructive dismissal as well but the Tribunal did not apparently deal with that matter in the hearing.
The Halal Food Group’s representative stated that the business had apologised for the email and that it had arranged a face-to-face meeting with the employees who had sent the email and encouraged them to also apologise for the email. It was also stated that the Halal Food Group were unhappy with a number of the changes that Mr Turton had made in his managerial role.
The Employment Tribunal found in Mr Turton’s favour in his claims for race and religious discrimination and awarded him the sum of £3,000 in compensation for the injury to his feeling sustained as a result of the discrimination. However, this sum was reduced by 25% to account for the fact that Mr Turton had not submitted an official grievance before resigning and claiming discrimination. The Tribunal also recommended that the Halal Food Group send its workforce and team leaders within six months about their equal opportunities policies.
Neither Mr Turton nor the Halal Food Group appear to have been available for comment after the outcome of the hearing and it is not currently known whether the Halal Food Group will appeal.