White teacher `faced bias' White teacher `lost out'

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The Independent Online
A maths teacher was discriminated against in an application for a job with an education authority because she was white, an industrial tribunal was told yesterday.

Ursula Gregory told the tribunal in Croydon, south London, how as a temporary tutor for an adult basic maths class at the Ferndale Centre, run by Lambeth community education service, she had taught a class of 30 students - all but one of whom was from an ethnic minority background - with no complaints.

However, when she applied for the same full-time post when it was advertised in January 1993 in the national press and the Voice, a black community newspaper, she was not even shortlisted. Mrs Gregory, of Swindon, Wiltshire, told the tribunal in an opening statement: "I understood the procedure for recruitment and at no stage did I assume that I should be offered the permanent post.

"However, I did feel that unless there were truly exceptional grounds for discarding my application I could expect to be shortlisted."

Mrs Gregory was told in March of that year that she had failed to demonstrate a commitment to the borough's equal opportunities programme. The application form demanded "a good understanding of equal opportunity issues, knowledge and understanding of the nature of racial economic deprivation and inner city problems". The hearing was told that 21 of the 29 applicants were from ethnic minorities, while five of the six shortlisted candidates were non-white.

Mrs Gregory requested details of why she had failed in her application, but despite a series of letters, did not receive a satisfactory explanation as to why she failed to meet the equal opportunities criteria, she said.

"I didn't start out to take this to an industrial tribunal. I would have been perfectly content if I had a letter explaining why I had not been shortlisted," she said.

But she added: "Right from the very beginning I have had absolutely no co-operation at all from Lambeth."

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