White job-seeker was victim of bias

A local authority refused a race relations worker an equal opportunities job because he was white, an industrial tribunal ruled yesterday.

Stephen Webster was told by Kirklees Council, West Yorkshire, that his 11 years with the Commission for Racial Equality (CRE) counted for nothing.

This was despite the fact that a junior colleague from the CRE, who was from an ethnic minority, and people Mr Webster had trained, were all shortlisted.

The hearing in Leeds was told that out of 114 people who applied for four equal opportunity posts advertised by the council last August, 16 were white men. None of them was shortlisted.

Mr Webster won his case on race discrimination, but the tribunal dismissed his claim of sex discrimination.

Raymond Worrall, the tribunal chairman, said the council was wrong to claim that all the white candidates were weak, as 'one or two have qualifications as good as some of those that got on to the shortlist'.

The tribunal found Mr Webster, 46, of Stainbeck Road, Leeds, had qualifications which should have seen him included on the shortlist.

Paul Rose, for the council, had argued that Mr Webster was not interviewed because his application 'lacked detail'.

He said Mr Webster's experience was limited to race equality and he had no knowledge of gender and disability issues.

The hearing was adjourned for the parties to try to settle the amount of compensation.

Mr Webster said afterwards that he welcomed the decision and hoped it made the point that bodies selecting equality officers must apply equal opportunities policies to their selection procedures.

The Commission for Racial Equality later welcomed the tribunal decision. Chris Boothman, CRE legal division director, said: 'The commission welcomes the decision and hopes that all employers will take note and avoid any future discrimination on racial grounds.

'It is particularly to be regretted that discrimination should have been found during the appointments process for an equal opportunities post.'

(Photograph omitted)

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