£8,000 for former YWCA worker in race discrimination tribunal

A former employee of the YWCA has been awarded more than £8,000 in damages after winning a case of race discrimination against the charity.

Fatima Roberts, who worked for the YWCA on a programme for sex workers in north London, was given £7,000 compensation plus interest of £1,120 at a remedies hearing in Stratford, east London, last month.

The written judgement on the case, which was decided in 2006, said the YWCA subjected Roberts, who is Asian, to "a continuing state ... of less favourable treatment" on grounds of her race.

The charity did not investigate Roberts' grievance concerning race discrimination, the judgement said, and did not manage to provide the tribunal with an "adequate explanation" of why it had failed to do so.

At last month's hearing, Roberts said she had experienced emotional, physical and psychological problems as a result of her treatment by the charity. "The racism I experienced was intentional," she said. "I did everything within my power to resolve the issue - I just wanted to do my job, the job I loved."

A spokeswoman for the charity said: "The YWCA was satisfied that it was able to successfully defend most of the allegations brought by the complainant as we strongly disputed the allegations." She would not disclose how much was spent on legal fees, but a source close to the case put the figure at more than £50,000.

The spokeswoman refused to comment on whether the charity had strengthened grievance procedures or taken other action as a result of the tribunal's findings. "YWCA promotes dignity and diversity among all its staff and continues to invest in training and developing management skills," she said.

The payout to Roberts comes in the wake of the departure of former chief executive Deborah Annetts, who left the organisation after only three months in the job (Third Sector, 7 November 2007).

Her decision to leave came amid allegations of bullying within the senior management team and disagreement between Annetts and YWCA trustees over the future of the organisation.

It is understood that another former employee of the charity will lodge a complaint with the Tribunals Service by the end of this week. The charity's spokeswoman said: "As of 3 January, we are not aware of any tribunal cases having been filed against YWCA."

The YWCA describes itself as "the leading charity working with young women facing poverty, discrimination or abuse". Its charitable object is for "all young women to be free to make their own choices, take their own path in life and participate in society, free from discrimination and disadvantage".

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