Charity told to pay former employee almost £20,000 after tribunal upholds race discrimination complaints

A London Central Employment Tribunal upheld two claims related to pay and victimisation

A reconciliation charity has been forced to pay out nearly £20,000 to a former employee after claims of direct race discrimination related to pay and victimisation were upheld in an employment tribunal.

The Friends of the Bereaved Families Forum is a joint Israeli and Palestinian organisation of 650 bereaved families who have lost a close family member to the decades of conflict in the Middle East.

A London Central Employment Tribunal ruled that the charity had discriminated against Ms Sana Knaheh by paying her £27,000 per annum between August 2018 and March 2020, refusing to increase her pay during that period and by making any pay rise contingent on Knaheh raising more funds.

A complaint of victimisation was also upheld following a telephone call about her ability to attend a dispute resolution meeting in June 2019 under section 27 of the Equality Act 2010.

However, the tribunal dismissed more than 30 other complaints related to direct race discrimination, race-related harrassment and victimisation.

The tribunal heard that Knaheh is a Palestinian who lived in Israel before coming to the UK to study in October 2016.

Her claims of race discrimination were based on the grounds that various people at the charity, who are Jewish, discriminated against her because she is Palestinian.

Tribunal judge Harjit Grewal concluded that had Knaheh been paid £35,000 per annum “we would not have concluded that she had been the victim of racial dicrimination”.

In considering the award for injury to feelings, Grewal said it was important to recognise that 22 complaints of racial harassment did not succeed.

But on the act of victimisation that was successful, which related to the telephone call, Knaheh told the tribunal: “It made me feel like I am a tool for them, a token Palestinian that is expected to be afraid, apologetic and thankful at all times”.

A spokesperson for the charity said: “The trustees of FBFF accept the tribunal’s decision, and find it significant that it dismissed all but two out of the 37 complaints raised because they were not well founded.

“They note that in its judgment relating to wrongful dismissal, the tribunal confirmed that the trustees had been fully justified in dismissing the claimant for gross misconduct.

“On the issue of salary levels, the trustees are naturally disappointed as they are certain that race was not a consideration in anyone’s mind during discussions of the claimant’s salary.

“The trustees wish Ms Knaneh success in her future career.”

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