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Employee succeeds with victimisation claim after employer proposed relocation away from colleagues he'd complained about

View profile for Martin Cornforth
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In the recent case of Mr D Tadesse v The London Borough of Camden the employer was deemed to have failed to make a reasonable adjustment and victimised the employee regarding a proposed relocation after the Claimant had raised a grievance.

The Claimant was based at Pancras Square Library. He is a disabled person pursuant to the Equality Act 2010. The Claimant raised a grievance alleging that several individuals had discriminated against him because of his race. The grievance and appeal were rejected. Under the Equality Act 2010 a grievance about discrimination is a "protected act," and an employee can claim victimisation if they suffer a detriment because of the complaint.

The Clamant had been absent from work due to shielding during the pandemic. During March 2021 the Respondent was looking at a return to work for the Claimant and proposed that he return to Camden Town Library rather than his usual place of work. This concerned the Claimant because at the time the Library was a lateral flow testing centre and he had been shielding.

When the Claimant expressed concerns about returning to Camden Town Library one reason given for the proposal was that, "immediately placing you back at Pancras Square Library when there are existing tensions because of the grievances you raised may cause disruption."

The Tribunal found that the Respondent failed to consider reasonable alternatives to the proposal to relocate the Claimant to Camden. The Respondent did not consider any reasonable alternatives until 12 April 2021. The Tribunal viewed this as an excessive delay in offering a reasonable adjustment after the claimant had made clear his concerns about a move to Camden Town Library. The Tribunal decided that there was a failure to make reasonable adjustments during the period 16 March 2021 to 12 April 2021

The Tribunal also decided that the proposal to move the Claimant to Camden was victimisation. The Respondent had made it clear that the decision to relocate him was because of the complaint alleging race discrimination. Although the allegations of race discrimination were not upheld by either the Respondent or the Tribunal, the Tribunal found that it was this protected act itself and nothing else that caused the proposed relocation. Although some colleagues had reacted adversely to the complaint, their reaction was to the complaint itself and nothing else. Moreover, the Respondent did not consider any alternatives such as mediation or relocation of other individuals. As such the Tribunal decided that the proposed relocation was a detriment and thus the victimisation claim was successful.

Despite the Claimant's original complaints of race discrimination having been rejected the mishandling of the response to his complaints led to separate claims succeeding. It is not only necessary to carefully investigate a discrimination complaint but also to ensure that any consequences of the grievance, such as the impact on colleagues, are also carefully handled. Our team of experienced employment lawyers are on hand to advise throughout a grievance procedure.


If you are an employer, or employee who needs guidance on any of the above matters, we are here to help.  Please do not hesitate to contact our Employment Law Team on 01522 814638, or make an enquiry here.