Former BGC broker Ramesh Kumaran makes race discrimination claim in Employment Tribunal

hmctsA well-known firm of brokers in London is being sued by a former employee for race discrimination after he claimed that he had been depicted as Apu, a character from the Simpsons.

Ramesh Kumaran, a former broker at BGC Partners, brought his claims to the Employment Tribunal after he alleged that he had been discriminated against because of his race during the course of his employment with the firm and that he had been racially harassed by other employees at the firm..

Mr Kumaran, who had worked for a decade for BGC before leaving the firm, alleged at the East London Employment Tribunal that his manager, Mr Boris Lefebvre, had sent an email to colleagues depicting Mr Kumaran as ‘Apu’ from the television cartoon ‘The Simpsons’. Mr Kumaran gave evidence that Mr Lefebvre’s actions had caused him to work in a “humiliating environment” and that he was “shocked” that his manager would have sent such an email. He further stated that he believed that the depiction of him as such a character had “significant racial connotations” and that he had allegedly witnessed Mr Lefebvre “sniggering” when he had sent the email.

The former BGC broker also gave evidence that he believed that Mr Lefebvre had discriminated against him during the course of his employment by favouring less experienced white employees when allocating work on new products and clients.

Lawyers for BGC challenged Mr Kumaran on his evidence and asserted that he had  been “extraordinarily arrogant” whilst working for the firm. With regards to the incident where his manager had depicted him as Apu, it was also put to Mr Kumaran that he had been “trying to retrospectively take what was normal conversation, banter and decent relationships and twisting it to suit [his] case.”

BGC Partners have not currently commented on the ongoing legal proceedings but are contesting all of Mr Kumaran’s claims.

Chris Hadrill,  an employment solicitor at Redmans, commented on the case: “In order to succeed in a claim for race-related harassment a Claimant must show that there has been unwanted conduct related to his or her race and, further, that this conduct had the purpose or effect of violating his or her dignity or creating an intimidating, degrading, hostile offensive or humiliating environment for him or her. It awaits to be seen whether Mr Kumaran can convince the Employment Tribunal that Mr Lefebvre’s actions constituted unwanted conduct and, further, whether this conduct had the effect of creating an offensive environment for Mr Kumaran.

The case continues at the East London Employment Tribunal.