A company which has just five black staff out of 800 was found to have racially discriminated against an African-Caribbean employee and effectively dismissed him unfairly.
An employment tribunal said Giles Marcus, formerly a sales rep at Pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca’s marketing HQ in Capability Green, Luton, had been discriminated against ‘on the grounds of his race and this was the reason for his resignation’ in 2010.
Mr Marcus, 35, was criticised by his manager over his sales technique and told he needed to improve on his ‘in-call performance’, his proactivity and understanding of the business.
Bedford Employment Tribunal found that this was despite statements by others that Mr Marcus’ performance was fine. He was issued with a written warning, to which he appealed against, but later resigned from the company where he had started in 2007.
The tribunal said the ‘primary facts’ it was ‘prepared to draw inferences from’ in reaching its findings were as follows:
The number of black staff employed in the UK marketing company (five out of 800, 200 of which are based in Luton)
The absence of any equal opportunities policy
No evidence that there is an equal opportunities officer allocated with responsibility for it
No apparent monitoring of equal opportunities
The treatment of Mr Marcus regarding his ‘failure’ compared to the treatment of a white female colleague
In the tribunal’s judgement it states: ‘The claimant’s contract of employment makes no reference to equal opportunities and although we asked the respondent’s witnesses about this, they were not able to assist us about an equal opportunities policy and the amount of training they had received in equal opportunities/ diversity amounted to nil or very little.
‘Similarly there was little in the way of monitoring taken by the company and their response to the race relations questionnaire was, in the tribunal’s view, evasive.’
It also said the manager – who has since left AstraZeneca – had little if any training and no awareness of such a policy and there was a ‘lack of any legitimate explanation’ for his treatment of Mr Marcus.
This week the tribunal was set to decide how much to award Mr Marcus, but he agreed a financial settlement with AstraZeneca before the hearing and is not able to disclose information to the press.
An AstraZeneca spokesman said: “We were disappointed by the findings of the Employment Tribunal in this matter.
“AstraZeneca understands that its people are its most important resource and is committed to ensuring that it has a diverse workforce with equality of opportunity.”
Luton on Sunday asked AstraZeneca how many of its 200-strong Luton workforce were black but the firm said it could not find out the information before our press deadline.