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Friday, 7 January 2011

Office manager's dismissal 'tainted by race', tribunal told (UK)

 The dismissal of an office manager from the north west London company she worked for was "tainted by race", an employment tribunal has been told.

There is overwhelming evidence to support a finding of discrimination, Valerie Moxam's representative, Peter Ward, said in closing submissions.

British-born Ms Moxam, whose parents are from Jamaica, has told the hearing in Watford that David Wood dismissed her from landscaping contractor Visible Changes for reasons of race. She is suing the company, Mr Wood, and the firm's health and safety co-ordinator, Susan Ward.

Ms Moxam, of Dolphin Road, Northolt, west London, who is fair-skinned like her parents, and has ginger hair and blue/green eyes, was fired by text message, the tribunal has heard.

She said she had previously heard racist remarks being made at the firm, of South Harrow, north west London, and added: "There is no doubt in my mind that the reason for my dismissal was, at least in part, my race."

Managing director Mr Wood has denied that he used an email from his accountant telling him of the firm's financial problems as an excuse to get rid of Ms Moxam because she was not fitting in.

He also denied allegations that he made racist comments, including one at a grievance meeting which followed the text message, where he is alleged to have said: "Yeah, I often joked about 'Why do black men have big c****?'

Mr Ward said: "Ms Moxam simply did not fit in in the workplace, because she did not join in with the racist banter. It was becoming obvious to employees that she was from an ethnic minority. 'Who are we going to get rid of?' - That is tainted by race."

Mr Wood has told the tribunal he "panicked" after receiving an email from his accountant, telling him to cut any employee who was not needed. He said he and his wife Alison decided they could do Ms Moxam's work, but he added: "We suffered tremendously when Val left."

The tribunal panel started its deliberations but said it would not give any judgment before Friday morning.

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