Refugee Council guilty of race discrimination

Oakington reception centre is ordered to pay £65,000 to former advice worker

The Refugee Council has been ordered to pay more than £65,000 to an employee who suffered race discrimination at one of its reception centres.

An employment tribunal ruled that advice worker Emmanuel Obikwu was unfairly dismissed after a restructure at Oakington immigration reception centre in Cambridgeshire in 2006, causing him to suffer depression and sleep deprivation.

The tribunal in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, ruled that it was "quite satisfied that the ill health which the claimant suffered was caused by race discrimination for which the respondent is responsible".

It ordered the charity to pay Obikwu £7,273 for unfair dismissal, £24,000 for race discrimination and £28,558 for lost earnings, totalling £65,475, including interest.

Obikwu said afterwards: "This was a charity I believed was dedicated to equal treatment of employees and the welfare of refugees. If charity begins at home, it failed woefully."

A spokesman for the Refugee Council said: "The Oakington restructuring was carried out in very difficult circumstances and all the managers involved acted in good faith. We have reviewed our procedures to ensure that all staff are treated equally and fairly. We regret the distress the process has caused Mr Obikwu."

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