CWU member Imran Rehman has won a significant victory over BSKYB relating to race discrimination and victimisation with the support of CWU.
Imran works at BSKYB's call centre in Leeds and after sustained discrimination under two managers he sought the help of CWU and took the company to a tribunal. Despite a harrowing experience he has come out on top, fully vindicated with damages and an apology.
The case began, when a manager in conversation with two quality analysts referred to Imran as "a dirty P*ki b*****d."
The managers were concerned about the comment, so they spoke to a senior manger and one told Imran what had happened. Imran complained that the manager should have been suspended but she was moved to another bank of desks in the office. After a four week investigation she was sacked.
Imran may have thought his problems over, but they were only just beginning. The operations manager with more direct control over Imran was the sacked manager's friend and began a campaign against him.
BSkyB scores staff annually on their performance, and Imran found himself targeted in this area. When it came to his annual review, Imran had been told he would get a score of four, which would result in a 4% pay increase. Then on the day he was due to get his score, it was downgraded to three.
Imran decided he had had enough and approached his CWU rep, Mizan Muqit from the union's West Yorkshire branch, to see what recourse he had open to him. Ultimately the case ended up going to an employment tribunal (ET) hearing in Leeds on the ground of discrimination claims.
Regarding the performance score downgrade, the then manager, who had since moved on to another company, told the ET hearing how he had wanted to give Imran a four but they did not like him. There were claims that Imran had intimated managers non-verbally using body language and staring, but as the tribunal judge pointed out, there was no documentation of these claims.
Imran's rep Mizan Muqit explains: "The hearing lasted four instead of five days. Also Sky had five senior managers attend the tribunal who were supposed to give evidence but after three days of the hearing only two had given evidence as the Sky legal team withdrew the other witnesses."
The case lasted 16 months in all with judgement delivered, after the four-day long ET hearing, on Thursday 11 July.
The judge at the ET upheld the complaint of race discrimination. Imran was awarded £8,000 in compensation for injury to feelings. BSKYB were also ordered to adjust the Imran's pay as if he had been graded four as at July 1, 2012 and pay such arrears as may be due to him. A senior BSKYB manager must also provide a formal written apology.
Commenting on the outcome, Imran's rep Mizan said: "Race is a serious issue, however, these type of incidents are still happening at high profile blue chip organisations like BSKYB. This I believe shows what a bleak situation workers face in the workplace. The witnesses for Imran Rehman who attended the tribunal hearing were also employees at BSKYB and when cross examined said that they never had any equality and diversity training since joining the company. This is an incredulous situation - especially in this day and age.
"As a member on the CWU's race advisory committee I used my skills and experience in helping my member and also demonstrated what the CWU can offer when defending the rights of our members being subjected to acts of racial discrimination and harassment. The union on a local and national level will robustly support any of our members being treated unfairly in the workplace. The union can make a difference and I would urge BSKYB employees at the Leeds call centre join the CWU."
Union support vital
Commenting on the help he received, Imran said: "There is no doubt that without Mizan's help, guidance and most importantly emotional support I would have found myself struggling to carry on the fight for justice alone. I would recommend to anyone that they join the CWU on the back of the support I received."
Linda Roy, CWU national equalities officer, said: "This is a significant victory for the CWU and underlines the benefit of being a member of a trade union. The employer is well known for its anti-trade union stance and this particular case illustrated the reality of what life can be like when a worker becomes persona non grata, even when they themselves have done nothing wrong. The CWU stands firmly against racism and we have a proud record of campaigning against racism in the workplace. I am pleased that Imran saw justice delivered through the employment tribunal; I too would like to place on record my appreciation for the excellent personal representation given to the member by Mizan Muqit."