Employment tribunal rejects claims against British Red Cross

Accusations of age, race and disability discrimination are dismissed by panel

An employment tribunal has rejected claims of discrimination and unfair dismissal against the British Red Cross.  

Jackie Rutherford, a former service assistant with the charity, claimed unfair dismissal after she was made redundant last year during the third phase of a restructure affecting 17 staff in the charity's London operation.

Rutherford, a 41-year-old black woman of Guyanese origin, also alleged race and age discrimination.But a three-man panel at an employment tribunal in Stratford, east London, this week found unanimously in favour of the Red Cross.The panel said there was no evidence that age or race played any part in the treatment of Rutherford, that a genuine redundancy situation did exist and that the redundancy consultation was "effective and meaningful".

But the tribunal did add that it was "strange" that the Red Cross had extended the redundancy consultation by three weeks but told staff only in the final week of the extension

The tribunal concluded that Rutherford was not willing to consider an alternative post at Beckenham in Kent because it was too far from her home in Essex, although she claimed she should have been offered more suitable opportunities to make it easier for her to care for her disabled husband.

Martyn Dicker, HR manager for the south east at the British Red Cross, said: "The British Red Cross is gratified with the verdict of this case, which unanimously cleared the organisation of all allegations of discrimination and unfair dismissal made by Ms Rutherford. As a humanitarian organisation, we are saddened that the case reached this stage."

Rutherford said she had lost the case because she could not afford legal representation and that if she had won, it would have opened a flood of appeals against the charity's redundancy procedure.

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