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Black Royal Mail Workers Race Discrimination Claims

Post boxesFour black Royal Mail employees who claimed that they had been victimised due to their race and treated less favourably than a white colleague have had their hopes of winning compensation boosted by the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT).

The four long-serving workers, all of them acting managers, objected when a white colleague was slotted into a higher position for which they had had no opportunity to apply. For ten years, their managerial roles had not been reflected in their pay and they complained that their grievances were not properly dealt with.

In rejecting their claims, an Employment Tribunal (ET) found that the more favourable treatment of the white comparator had arisen from a genuine mistake as to the latter’s pre-promotion grade which had nothing to do with race. Their under-payment for a decade was also due to an error which was unrelated to race in that their promotion to acting managerial positions had not been communicated to the payroll department. The ET’s rulings on those matters were upheld by the EAT.

The ET also rejected arguments that the handling of the four’s grievances had been infected by discrimination and amounted to victimisation. In allowing their appeals in respect of those issues, however, the EAT detected a troubling confusion in the ET’s reasoning. The ET had fallen into the trap of seeking to put forward explanations for the employer’s rejection of the grievances that the latter had not itself provided. Issues in respect of the grievance procedure were sent back to a differently constituted ET for fresh consideration.