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Camden Council suffered an embarrassing defeat in the Employment Tribunal after an employee pursued a case of race discrimination against them.

Mr Fraser Valdez, 31, has worked for Camden Council for the last 15 years. However, he took his employer to an Employment Tribunal in a case for race discrimination after he discovered that he was passed over for promotion in 2011 because of his skin colour.

The discrimination came to light in 2011 after a “whistleblower” at Camden Council sent documents to Mr Valdez which contained stunning allegations of discrimination. The documents included a memo which revealed that although Mr Valdez had been the “outright winner” in the selection process for a senior role in the environment department, the role had been given to a white colleague after the selection panel boosted his scores over Mr Valdez’s. The reasons for this boost are unclear but Camden New Journal reports that it was an attempt to maintain the black-white balance in the department.

Mr Valdez – who was previously nominated for a staff award by the Council in 2005 – subsequently instructed employment law solicitors and took Camden Council to the Central London Employment Tribunal. The Tribunal ruled last October that Mr Valdez had been directly discriminated against by his employer in being passed over for promotion. It is not known at this time as to whether the Tribunal has awarded Mr Valdez compensation for loss of earnings or the injury to his feelings.

Direct race discrimination in the workplace occurs when a worker is treated less favourably by their employer because of (in this case) skin colour. Mr Valdez was asserting that he had been subjected to a detriment (the failure to promote him) because Camden Council wanted to maintain the “black-white balance” in the environment department – which was, ostensibly, because of his skin colour.

Commenting after the Employment Tribunal verdict, Mr Valdez stated that all that he wanted was “equality of opportunity during the recruitment and selection process, free from any racial prejudice. The last 16 months have been very stressful and upsetting for me and a soul-destroying period of my life”. Mr Valdez’s Trade Union, GMB, stated that this was a “clear indication that such prejudices are still regrettably present in the workplace”.

A council spokeswoman later released a statement which read that “Camden takes all allegations of discrimination very seriously. When we get the judgment we will examine it carefully, to ensure all follow-up action is taken”.

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The Direct 2 Lawyers Employment Team post daily on interesting employment law cases, Employment Tribunal judgments and Employment Appeal Tribunal judgments. All of the Employment Team posts are written by qualified specialist employment lawyers

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