Sacked employees win race claim against care home

A care home has lost its appeal against a race discrimination claim made by two of its dismissed employees.

The case involved a number of staff including an African care worker, an Asian deputy manager and a senior manager, who was white.

The dismissals followed the inappropriate administration of medication to a patient in the care home.

The home’s regulations stated that a supervisory document had to be signed by a doctor before a patient’s medication was changed, and had to be checked each time before staff could administer treatment.

On one occasion, the document for one of the patients went missing. The deputy manager, who was Asian, volunteered to sort out the relevant documentation, even though it was strictly the responsibility of the manager.

The following day, the African care worker, administered medicine to the patient even though the document had still not been obtained. The manager witnessed the treatment, and the deputy manager signed it off.

The care home launched an investigation which resulted in the dismissal of both the Asian deputy manager and the African care worker. The white manager received a six-month warning.

The two dismissed staff members sued the care home for racial discrimination. They didn’t dispute that their actions could be considered “gross misconduct” and therefore a sackable offence. However, they said the manager had been let off with a far more lenient punishment, when she was effectively just as guilty and was the more senior member of staff.

The tribunal found in favour of the dismissed workers.

The Employment Appeal Tribunal has now upheld the decision. It stated that the tribunal had been entitled to find that the difference in treatment given to the manager had not been adequately explained. Any mitigating circumstances in the manager’s case were insufficient to justify the contrast between the leniency she received and the harsh way her colleagues were treated.

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