Penarth Leisure Centre tribunal: Three claim they are victims of racial discrimination
3:20pm Thursday 7th March 2013 in News
THREE staff members from Penarth Leisure Centre alleged that they were the victims of racial discrimination, victimisation and harassment at an employment tribunal.
Scott Roberts, Nabeel Rahman and Andrew Mifsud claimed that they were victims of a “personal witch hunt” from the centre’s acting manager Jamie Morgans.
They told the tribunal that they were the victims of bullying, harassment and victimisation at the local leisure centre.
Nabeel Rahman, from Barry, also claims that he was the victim of racial discrimination and said that he only got the courage to come forward after years of abuse.
Scott Roberts and Andrew Mifsud are also claiming associative racial discrimination.
The three colleagues brought the case to an employment tribunal after they were suspended for allegedly clocking each other in for their respective shifts.
They were suspended in December 2011 and launched the tribunal case in May 2012. A report conducted by Beverly Noon into the centre after Mr Rahman originally raised his grievances concluded that there was a culture of victimisation at the leisure centre and that some employees were “treated more favourably than others”.
John Maitland Evans, the former chief executive of the Vale of Glamorgan council, said that there were “serious issues in terms of the management of the centre” during his evidence at the tribunal held in Cardiff from Monday, February 25, to Friday, March 1.
He added that the report, and conclusions of the grievances raised by the claimants and disciplinary issues, were referred to the new director of the council.
When asked by Ms M Williams Edgar, who was sitting as an employee representative at the tribunal, if there was any manipulation of time keeping or the clocking-in machine he said: “I didn’t find any evidence regarding manipulation.”
He added that the system “generally was poor and needed a complete overhaul”.
Scott Roberts represented himself and his colleagues Nabeel Rahman and Andrew Mifsud.
Mr Roberts, who gave evidence at the employment tribunal on Monday and Tuesday, told the tribunal he believed that Mr Morgans tampered with the CCTV footage and clock in machines in a bid to build a case up against the three friends.
Mr Roberts, who was claiming victimisation, bullying and harassment from Mr Morgans, added: “It’s directed at him as others were involved in it but he was the one subjecting us to the treatment.”
Barrister Declan O’Dempsey, representing the Vale of Glamorgan council, questioned whether Mr Roberts could prove that Mr Morgans had tampered with the CCTV footage.
“You have never specified how Mr Morgans has supposedly fabricated the footage. You narrow it down to the fact that it was available on his laptop.”
Nabeel Rahman, from Barry, told the employment tribunal on Tuesday he had been subjected to victimisation and racism.
He also said he had suffered ‘public humiliation’ as well as ‘verbal and physical intimidation’.
Mr Rahman was the first person to raise issues of victimisation, which prompted the Beverly Noon report into how the leisure centre was run.
During Mr O’Dempsey’s cross-examination he repeatedly stated that Mr Rahman had raised issues of discrimination but did not raise issues of racism.
On Thursday February 28 the council conceded Mr Rahman had raised the issue of racial discrimination in a previous grievance after an e-mail emerged after he had given evidence earlier in the week.
“Mr Rahman clearly raises an issue of direct racial discrimination concerning ethnic origin and skin colour,” said Mr O’Dempsey.
In regards to the clocking in system Mr Rahman added: “I believe Mr Morgans tampered with the clock-in cards in line with CCTV footage in the attempt to paint the picture that I was clocking in with my colleagues as he hates me so much.”
Andrew Mifsud, who gave evidence on Wednesday February 27, said that he felt ‘belittled’ by Mr Morgans and felt had been unfairly targeted.
Mr Mifsud, who is of Maltese origin, said in his 14 years working at the leisure centre it was common for ‘every member of staff and senior management’ to refer to him as a ‘Maltese ****’ “No one likes to be called names,” he said.
“It’s not nice but you take it on the chin when someone says something not very nice about you.
“In the beginning no one said it maliciously.”
Adam Sargent was the investigating officer in the disciplinary case when the three claimants were initially suspended due to ‘irregularities in the clocking in system’.
When asked about the potential of whether CCTV could have been manipulated he said: “I’m no expert but I wouldn’t have thought so.”
Jen Davies, who works for Internal Audit and is a counter fraud specialist, was also involved in the investigation process for the Vale council.
She told the tribunal you can view all of the CCTV cameras around Penarth Leisure Centre on two screens and go back 30 days to view previous recordings.
She added that to view the footage on a separate laptop you would need additional software, which Jamie Morgans had on his council laptop, but dismissed the suggestion put forward by Scott Roberts that it was suspicious that he had recordings of the three complainants on his laptop.
“No suspicion was raised by auditors as it was for a pre-meditated purpose.”
She added: “As a manager he was doing a fact finding mission to see if he had any issues to raise with internal audit.”
The case was adjourned until April 10 to allow time for Mr Morgans, health permitting, to give evidence.