Excello Law acts for former NHS employee awarded £1 million compensation following unfair dismissal

Richard Hastings, a former IT manager with King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, has been awarded a £1 million compensation payment following the conclusion of an Employment Tribunal procedure which found the Trust guilty of racial discrimination and unfair dismissal tainted by ‘unconscious bias’.

Mr Hastings, who was represented by employment lawyer Louise Brown and paralegal Carole Spencer of Excello Law, had worked for the Trust since 1996, but was dismissed in October 2015 on the grounds of gross misconduct following an incident in the hospital car park with a contractor and a delivery van driver.

Despite an exemplary work record, Mr Hastings was accused of assault after attempting to take a note of the van’s registration number and to defend himself after the delivery driver racially abused and assaulted Mr Hastings.

The Tribunal heard how Mr Hastings called the hospital’s security office for help but no record of the phone call was logged, although they confirmed they had received the call, and nobody came to his aid. Despite this, the Trust’s disciplinary consistently painted Mr Hastings as ‘the aggressor’, although CCTV footage showed this not to be the case, and the contractors as ‘the victims.’

An investigatory meeting described as an ‘interrogation’ and a total failure to investigate Mr Hastings’ grievance of having been racially abused contributed to the Tribunal’s findings that the process was biased and discriminatory.  Opportunities to collate more evidence to support Mr Hastings’ claims of innocence were repeatedly missed.

The ‘catalogue of failings’ the Tribunal found in the processes of the hospital Trust were crucially found to show a difference in treatment between the contractors and Mr Hastings, a British man of Caribbean descent, whose evidence was shown to have been treated with unwarranted distrust and disbelief.

The Tribunal found that Mr Hastings was an honest witness, whilst identifying numerous inconsistencies and flaws in the opposing evidence.

Louise Brown of Excello Law commented:  “Richard was the victim of an institution whose desire for an easy solution resulted in a total disregard for the wellbeing of an employee of nearly 20 years. The Tribunal found that the Trust’s initial investigation into Mr Hastings’ suspension was ‘fundamentally flawed’ and served only to support the organisation’s bias towards our client.

“The substantial damages awarded by the Tribunal reflect the significant loss of Mr Hastings’ pension rights following his dismissal and serve as a timely reminder to employers with final salary schemes in place that a failure to follow fair, unbiased and thorough disciplinary procedures, that are not tainted with discrimination, can result in huge compensation awards.”

Carole Spencer added:  “This case highlights the ease with which companies acting without sufficient care can action disciplinary processes that are, on closer examination, discriminatory.  Every advisory or decision-making role in disciplinary procedures carries the responsibility of reviewing all the evidence, or lack of evidence, and questioning any omissions or potential bias to avoid fundamentally affecting the outcome.  We are delighted the Employment Tribunal has ruled in favour of our client and that the level of award reflects the very serious findings. ”