A former NHS worker, Elliot Browne, has been awarded £933,115 in compensation for race discrimination and unfair dismissal.
Mr Browne was a divisional director at Central Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust until he was dismissed in 2008. An employment tribunal sitting in Manchester found that Mr Browne had been subjected to discriminatory treatment in the final year of his employment with the Trust. He had spent 34 years working for the NHS and was the first and only black man to hold the position of divisional director for clinical scientific services with the Manchester Trust.
In 2007 his manager raised concerns about overspending in the department and Mr Browne’s perceived lack of "personal leadership". He subsequently raised what the tribunal found to be a "well-founded" grievance about race discrimination, claiming that he had been unfairly singled out for disciplinary action and criticism by comparison with white work colleagues.
Mr Browne maintained that the result was that members of staff "closed ranks" and began disciplinary proceedings which may have led to dismissal. He was signed off work with stress and in May 2008 he was suspended and dismissed.
Employment Judge Porter, delivering the judgment of the tribunal, stated:
"The respondent, from March 2007 onwards, treated the claimant less favourably on grounds of race. We find that there was a drastic change in the treatment of the claimant following his race discrimination grievance.
"The trust did regard the claimant’s claims as spurious, as opportunistic, and acted accordingly.
"We find that, once the race discrimination grievance was put in, the trust closed ranks and commenced disciplinary action against the claimant to secure his removal from office."
The tribunal also found that Mr Browne had suffered "systematic discrimination" and "an intimidating environment". He was severely affected by what happened and said that he was left close to a mental breakdown.
The award covered compensation for unfair dismissal, aggravated damages, loss of earnings and pension. He had already received £71,415 from the Trust.
Speaking after the hearing Mr Browne said "It is scandalous that this kind of behaviour and culture should exist in an organisation whose prime purpose is to care for others".
Unite officer Keith Hutson said:
"This is a well deserved outcome for Elliot Browne. It reflects the pain, suffering and grief that he was put through by his employer…
"Hopefully this will act as a catalyst for his former employer to face up to their obligations in tackling the culture of institutionalised racism that they seem happy to endorse and that is underpinned by a cavalier attitude in their management style.
"The expenditure of almost a million pounds of taxpayers’ money could have been avoided if this employer had just followed its own policies and procedures from the outset, instead of believing that NHS funds are there to defend the indefensible, rather than deliver patient care."
A spokesman for the Trust denied that there had been discrimination and said that it will be appealing against the decision, no doubt using a great deal more taxpayers’ money to do so.