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Sunday, 9 January 2011

Boss racially harassed manager, tribunal rules (UK)

A company boss harassed a London-based office manager by making a "highly offensive racist remark", an employment tribunal has ruled.

David Wood asked in the presence of Valerie Moxam, "Why is it that white girls like black men?" then laughed, the panel found.

Ms Moxam was later fired by text message by Mr Wood, managing director of landscaping contractor Visible Changes, though that was not racially motivated, the tribunal in Watford said.

However at a subsequent grievance meeting, Mr Wood made another racist remark, saying: "Yeah, I often joked about 'Why do black men have big c****?'," which also amounted to harassment, it found.

Other claims of discrimination, including against the company's health and safety co-ordinator Susan Ward, failed.

British-born Ms Moxam's parents are from Jamaica. She is fair-skinned like her parents, and has ginger hair and blue/green eyes.

Ms Moxam, 42, of Dolphin Road, Northolt, west London, said after the hearing: "The past 18 months have been extremely challenging and stressful, but I felt so strongly that I wouldn't give up.

"What I have learned from this victory is that it is important for each one of us to take a stand and fight for respect and dignity. It is our civil liberty. People must be held accountable for their actions in the workplace."

Employment judge John Hobson said of Mr Wood's remark about white girls liking black men, which the panel found had been said: "This was a highly offensive racist remark in the presence of the claimant and amounted to harassment."

Claims against the company, of South Harrow, north-west London, and Mr Wood of race discrimination by harassment were upheld. It was understood that the parties reached a financial settlement after the findings.

Milngavie Herald