Case Review: Fire Station Chief Sues for Racial Discrimination

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Case Review: Fire Station Chief Sues for Racial Discrimination

A black fire station officer has sued his employers for racial discrimination after claims that his colleagues nicknamed him Malcolm X and Frank Bruno.

An Employment Tribunal in Birmingham heard that Warren Simpson, 48, had joined the fire brigade in 1985. He claims that in his first week he was labelled “Frank Bruno”. Mr Simpson told the Tribunal that he felt he had been repeatedly passed over for promotion whilst less-experienced white colleagues were offered more senior positions within the fire service.

Mr Simpson, who is still employed as Station Commander in Wolverhampton, is suing West Midlands Fire Service for a significant sum.

Mr Simpson claims that he has been the victim of racial discrimination including harassment, bullying and victimisation.

With an impeccable record, including a Commendation Award in 1998, Mr Simpson believes that his career development has not been supported in the same way as some of his white colleagues. The Employment Tribunal heard that after he became a union representative for black and ethnic fire-fighters, his colleagues began to name him “Malcolm X” after the famous hard line equal rights campaigner.

Mr Simpson, who has been on half-pay from the Fire Service after being signed off with stress in February of this year, claims that he would have been earning at least £70,000 had he been promoted.

Mr Simpson was represented by his wife at the Employment Tribunal, who told the panel “it is submitted that Mr Simpson has experienced racial discrimination, victimisation and harassment in the form of a constant shifting of the goalposts by the Respondent.”

West Midlands Fire Service responded to the claims of harassment and bullying as “absolutely preposterous”.