Muslims awarded pounds 1,000 in compensation for race bias: Tribunal hearing regarded as a test case for the Asian community

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The Independent Online
SEVENTEEN Asian workers disciplined for taking a day off to celebrate a religious festival were yesterday awarded pounds 1,000 compensation each for racial discrimination.

The industrial tribunal hearing in Leeds, West Yorkshire, was regarded as a test case for the Asian community. The men had received final written warnings when they took a day off in June 1992 for Eid - one of the most important dates in the Muslim calendar.

Keith Sugars, managing director of J H Walker, of Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, had described their action as 'mutiny'.

The company had banned staff from taking holidays during its busiest period of the year in May, June and July. But the Asian workers did not believe the rule applied to Eid because they had always previously been given the day off for the festival.

Last November the tribunal decided that the men had been racially discriminated against. Yesterday's remedy hearing was to decide on compensation.

Fraser Younson, the company's solicitor, had urged the panel to award between pounds 50 and pounds 100 compensation.

But Zafar Iqbal, who represented 16 of the men, said a low award might trivialise the matter.

He said after the award: 'That is the tribunal's decision and I am sure my clients are going to be happy with it. It was a matter of principle.'

The company is planning an appeal against the awards to the Employment Appeals Tribunal.

Mr Younson said: 'We are very surprised by the decisions today, to say the least. We feel the tribunal misdirected themselves on the question of intent.'

He told the hearing that the company had not intended racial discrimination against the men.

'The evidence is plain as a pikestaff that the company took its decision entirely for business reasons,' he said.

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