Housing officer from Lilley wins race discrimination case against employer

A HOUSING officer who claimed his dismissal from work was both unfair and an act of race discrimination has won his case at an employment tribunal. Errol Curniffe, who lives in Lilley, began working for Aldwyck Housing Association – which operates in Hert

A HOUSING officer who claimed his dismissal from work was both unfair and an act of race discrimination has won his case at an employment tribunal.

Errol Curniffe, who lives in Lilley, began working for Aldwyck Housing Association - which operates in Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire - in 2001.

He had "an unblemished record" until 2008, according to the judgment issued by Bedford Employment Tribunal.

He had his patch increased at the beginning of 2007, making it 60 per cent larger than average, and he raised concerns about his workload.


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On February 26, 2008 - four months after an appraisal which rated him "good effective" - Mr Curniffe, who is a British black man, was threatened with disciplinary action over his performance.

Further concerns about his work were raised during the course of the year, and he was given a final written warning, following a disciplinary hearing, in July.

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Another disciplinary procedure was launched in August culminating in a hearing in December, after which Mr Curniffe was dismissed.

Aldwyck's director of corporate services, Simon Evans-Evans, said the dismissal was "automatic" because a final written warning had already been issued. But in two previous dismissal cases, involving white employees, there had been a further hearing before dismissal, the judgment states.

Neil Hadden, Aldwyck's then chief executive, said allegations made by Mr Curniffe, including race allegations, were "frivolous, vexatious and completely unfounded".

On April 17 this year three other black Aldwyck employees presented a grievance alleging race discrimination.

In Mr Curniffe's case, the judgment said there was a "significant lack of investigation", and "many discrepancies throughout the action taken".

The judgment said that, despite reports from Mr Curniffe's GP that he was suffering from stress, Aldwyck did "very little to assist the claimant" and that it was never considered work-related stress could be affecting his performance.

The judgment concluded that Aldwyck's actions were "grossly unfair".

It states: "The conclusion we reach is that an employee of a different race or ethnic origin from the claimant would not have been treated as he was during the disciplinary process and would not have been dismissed as he was. We find that the claimant's dismissal by the respondent was an act of race discrimination."

Aldwyck's interim chief executive, Harj Singh, who took up the post on October 1 this year, said Aldwyck has launched an independent review of its procedures, and that it is considering the right to appeal against the tribunal's decision.

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