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Fire station commander loses race discrimination claim

by Redmans Solicitors on December 16, 2013

A black fire station commander has lost his Employment Tribunal claim after he alleged that he had been racially discriminated against by his fire service.

Commander Warren Simpson, a fire station commander for the West Midlands Fire Service, made the claim for direct race discrimination in the Employment Tribunal after he felt that he was being passed over for promotion by his bosses because of his skin colour. Commander Simpson, who is believed to be the highest-ranked black officer in the West Midlands, claimed that his career path was blocked and, further, that he had been racially harassed and bullied because of his skin colour.

Mr Simpson claimed that he had suffered the following detrimental treatment whilst working at West Midlands Fire Service:

  • A failure to promote him as compared to white colleagues
  • A failure to transfer him
  • Colleagues referring to him as “Frank Brunk”

Employment Judge MacMillan stated in the Employment Tribunal’s judgment that his discrimination claim was “a complaint without substance. The claimant is aggrieved he has been unable to achieve a substantive promotion. There is no evidence whatsoever of less favourable treatment than any comparable white officer where the circumstances of that white officer are truly comparable as required by the Equality Act”. This included Commander Simpson’s failure to show any occasion on which he had been passed over for promotion in favour of a white collleague who scored lower than him in promotion exercies. Judge Macmillan went on to dismiss Mr Simpson’s harassment claim, stating that Mr Simpson had appeared in video footage to be “very obviously just as amused as everybody else” and went on to conclude that “we have dealt with each issue raised by Mr Simpson and all the claimant’s complaints of race discrimination fail.”

There does not appear to have been any comment from Commander Simpson, nor the West Midlands Fire Service, after the release of the Employment Tribunal judgment.

Chris Hadrill, an employment solicitor at Redmans, commented on the case: “In order to succeed with direct race discrimination cases a Claimant must show that they have been less favourably treated (e.g. dismissed or not promoted etc.) because of their skin colour, nationality, national origin, ethnicity or ethnic origin. If the Claimant isn’t able to show any detrimental treatment as compared to a relevant comparator then their discrimination claim is extremely likely to fail.”

Redmans Solicitors are unfair dismissal solicitors and settlement agreement solicitors based in London

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