Briton sues Japanese firm in race claim

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The Independent Online
A British manager was passed over for promotion and eventually made redundant by a Japanese company because he was not of the right race, an industrial tribunal was told yesterday.

Cliff Wakeman, 45, was promised "lifetime employment in line with the Japanese philosophy" when he joined the City of London arm of the information company Quick Corp. But despite his qualifications and seniority, the deputy general manager was excluded from policy making meetings and passed over for promotion to general manager.

The tribunal in Stratford, east London, was told that within five years of being head-hunted by the firm he was made redundant and replaced by two Japanese nationals, who had fewer qualifications but cost the company nearly triple the salary of Mr Wakeman.

Giving evidence, he told the tribunal that following his redundancy in September 1994, he discovered Japanese employees had been paid well in excess of his pounds 53,000 salary, even though they occupied lower positions.

Mr Wakeman, from Whitstable, Kent, Mr Ashoq Solanki, an operations manager from Edgware, London, and Stuart Mitchell, a sales manager, from Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire, are seeking compensation for racial discrimination.

Quick Corp has admitted all three were unfairly dismissed, but deny racial discrimination.

Mr Wakeman told the tribunal he had been made redundant as a result of "victimisation and racial prejudice" by the firm's deputy managing director Mr Noriaki Nakajima.

After he left Quick Corp he received an anonymous letter containing details of salaries of Japanese workers.

"They were being paid far in excess of myself. It was abundantly clear that I was being paid well under half of those Japanese employees who had less qualifications and less experience than me."

He described Mr Nakajima as "aggressive and incompetent", adding: "He ran the company as he saw fit and treated staff as he saw fit."

However, he accepted there was a different "culture" within the company, which supplies financial information around the world, because it was run by Japanese people.

"There was public humiliation at meetings where staff were told to shut up and employees would switch from English to Japanese during meetings which in my book was rude, but it was accepted," Mr Wakeman said.

The hearing continues.

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