Eurotunnel pays up for anti-French bias

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The Independent Online

Eurotunnel agreed to pay as much as £200,000 yesterday to a former employee who lost her job and suffered "unlawful discrimination" because she was French.

Michele Fox, 54, of Saltwood, near Folkestone, told a tribunal last year in Ashford, Kent, how colleagues had described Eurotunnel employees in France as "useless and stupid". She had worked for Eurotunnel as a community relations officer, earning £35,000 a year.

Mrs Fox said that two years ago she had become marginalised when Sarah Kendall became head of the communications department and her new boss. Under Miss Kendall, the department was restructured and Mrs Fox was asked to reapply for one of two new jobs that had been created, but one of the requirements was for a native English speaker with A-level English.

In February last year, Mrs Fox was sacked. She had worked for Channel Tunnel Route Ltd, which owns Eurotunnel, since 1987. Married to an Englishman, she speaks English fluently and has lived in England for 20 years.

Miss Kendall had been accused of altering interviewing scores so that two English staff would get the jobs on offer. The tribunal found that the alterations had not been explained satisfactorily.

Mrs Kendall admitted that she had made a mistake when decreeing that internal applicants for the job should be native English speakers, but denied anti-French bias in her department.

A spokesman for Eurotunnel refused to comment on the size of the settlement yesterday, which is subject to a confidentiality agreement. Mrs Fox's legal team had been seeking £200,000 to reflect actual and expected loss of earnings.

The Eurotunnel spokesman said: "We are disappointed to have lost the case but it has been settled out of court."