Black police officer wins Employment Tribunal race discrimination claim

hmctsA black police officer has won a case for race discrimination against his police force in the Employment Tribunal after it was found that he had been denied promotion because of his skin colour.

Wiltshire Police force was found liable for race discrimination after an Employment Tribunal found that PC Ronnie Lungu was singled out “as a marked man” for no other reason than his race.

Mr Lungu, who joined the police force in 2003 after moving to England from Zimbabwe, alleged that he had been subjected to the following discriminatory treatment during his employment:

  • That his internal assessments had been specifically downgraded to make him appear to be unworthy of promotion
  • That he had been subjected to derogatory comments about his skin colour
  • That a senior member of staff had made particularly inappropriate comments about Mr Lungu during an appraisal, which Mr Lungu believed were made because of his race
  • That his complaints to senior management at the police force were not taken seriously and that his complaints were dismissed as trivial

Mr Lungu took his claims for direct race discrimination and race-related harassment to the Employment Tribunal, claiming that he had been denied promotion because of his race and that he had been subjected to unwanted offensive comments about his race.

The claim came before the Bristol Employment Tribunal earlier this year. The Employment Tribunal found in Mr Lungu’s favour in his claims for direct race discrimination and race-related harassment, holding that he had been singled out “as a marked man” because of his race and that his assessments had in fact been specifically downgraded in order to make it appear that he was not a credible promotion candidate.

The Employment Tribunal further commented on the failure to promote Mr Lungu: “The reduction in the scoring has the very significant effect in terms of making it appear reasonable that the one black applicant for promotion was scoring lower than the 19 white applicants and should therefore not be promoted.”

Mr Lungu commented on the Employment Tribunal’s judgment: “When I realised I was being singled out and treated badly because of the colour of my skin I felt so angry and upset. I had worked all my career to serve the community and be the best police officer I could but I was being penalised because I was black. It was totally unacceptable. But what made matters worse was that when I did raise the issue internally it wasn’t taken seriously.”

Chris Hadrill, a specialist employment solicitor at Redmans, commented on the case: “Employers must ensure that they treat members of staff equally whenever possible, whether or not they possess a characteristic protected under the Equality Act 2010. A failure to treat staff equally can lead to a situation which results in expensive, time-consuming, and possibly reputationally-damaging Employment Tribunal proceedings.”