Advice Story 15: Racial discrimination


Simon’s Story

Simon had been working as a qualified Care Worker for over 10 years, offering support to young people.  Sadly, like many employees in today’s society although Simon enjoyed his job, he began to encounter difficulties once new management took over.  His story is below with how NREC assisted him through his journey: 

“I am Simon and have been employed as a Care Worker for a number of years in the healthcare sector, supporting predominantly young people with additional needs.  For this role, I have attained various qualifications during my career including an NVQ Diploma at Level 3 in Health and Social Care which I initially took in 2007 at a previous place of employment.  In 2015, a manager at my existing employer requested that I retake the same NVQ again with additional modules as the company felt my existing qualification was insufficient.  I was happy to do this as the company paid for the course.  I passed and it was signed off as completed.  However, I began to experience problems when a new manager was employed by the company.

The new manager would not accept I had completed the required NVQ modules for my role, despite the fact they were signed off as such by an assessor.  She requested I undertake them again stating that I would have to bear 15% of the cost of these.  I was shocked as I had completed the course, more than once and the paperwork evidenced this.  I also began to encounter persistent problems with pay deductions and the allocation of work, so I decided to leave.  The company informed me that by leaving I had to pay for the full cost of the NVQ course which was a further unpleasant surprise.  They automatically deducted the cost from my final wages with other payments.  I knew of other employees that had left, yet they were only required to pay a small portion of the cost of the course.  These employees were white and I am of black, British Caribbean origin.  I felt I was being treated unfavourably and that this was discriminative.

I tried to resolve the issue informally and amicably by writing to the company but they were not very responsive. I just seemed to get pushed from ‘pillar to post’.  There were managers who could have sorted the issue out but chose not to.  I had enjoyed my job but I couldn’t afford to be left at a financial detriment.  I have bills to pay and a family to feed.  It caused increasing stress for myself and my family, in fact so much so as time went on it made my partner and I split up.  Partially as I was put in a position whereby I could no longer provide sufficiently for my family which was humiliating.  I was having to borrow money from my partner and as a man I felt unable to do that.  That was breaking point for me.

Although I believe my employer’s actions were discriminative, I felt lost at what to do next.  I couldn’t afford a Solicitor nor did I feel able to face the matter alone.  Neither did I wish to give up as by not challenging my employer’s behaviour, this would have meant others would possibly have been subject to the same treatment as myself and that troubled me.

This is when I turned to Northamptonshire Rights and Equality Council (NREC) for advice.  By simply listening to me, NREC advised me I had been subject to direct racial discrimination and guided me through the process of making a claim to the Employment Tribunal for this in addition to unlawful deduction of wages.  Due to the system my case took two years to resolve, it cost me my relationship and impacted upon my health in terms of stress.  However, NREC were with me every step of the way along the journey despite their extremely limited resources due to decreases in funds – they receive no Legal Aid.  Thanks to NREC the issue was settled without the need for me to attend a full Employment Tribunal.  I have since managed to find further employment and get my health and life back on track.  All I know is if I had not reached out to NREC when I hit breaking point then I may not have got the positive result I did for which I am forever thankful.”