Case Review: Camden Council found guilty of direct race discrimination and creating a “remarkable racial divide”

An employment tribunal found in favour of a race discrimination claim from a long-standing council employee that Camden Town Hall had routinely hired staff based on the colour of their skin.

The interesting case of Fraser Valdez has been called “obviously worrying” by the council and promises to review hiring procedures.

The discrimination claim was upheld thanks to a whistleblower within the council who had been able to show a “remarkable racial divide”.

Mr Valdez was supported by the GMB Union, and argued that he was treated less favourably on grounds of race (Mr Valdez is mixed race) after he was asked to apply for a job in the restructured culture and environment team. Mr Valdez had been the outright winner in competition for a senior role within the department, but his line managers awarded the post to a white colleague who scored less than him on the assessments.

The tribunal found that a judging panel of “uniformly white decision-makers” had hired “uniformly white” candidates for one team. It also found that a “family tree of the directorate showed 31 senior managers of whom only one is, conspicuously, a member of an ethnic minority group”.

The judge said the council evidence against Mr Valdez was “flawed, contradictory and false” and that Camden Town Hall was in breach of the European Human Rights Code of Practice on Employment.”

The GMB legal team commented: “This is an important case and a striking reminder that racial discrimination is unfortunately still present, not only in the modern day but amidst a modern employer.”

The claimant Mr Valdez commented after the seven-day hearing: “I always suspected that foul play occurred during the recruitment and selection process. All I wanted was equality of opportunity during the process, free from any racial prejudice.”