Badminton is a sport for “gays” according to the boss at a City firm accused of presiding over a “sexist, racist and homophobic culture”, an employment tribunal heard today.
Neil Campbell, a manager at brokerage company Tullet Prebon, allegedly told members of his Alternative Investments team who played the game that they should “get a dress” for the “gay and dainty” sport.
Former Tullet Prebon employee Kishore Kansal complained about the comments as part of a grievance procedure he had taken against Mr Campbell, his boss. Mr Kansal, 33, subsequently walked out of the company and was fired in absentia. He is seeking £1.5m in damages from the firm where he worked as a £130,000-a-year broker citing racial harassment and discrimination. The FTSE 250 company, together with six of Mr Kansal’s former colleagues, all deny the claim.
Paul Dunkley, one of seven heads of division at Tullet Prebon, told the tribunal he investigated Mr Kansal’s complaint and interviewed Mr Campbell over the comments which the latter said he “may have made”.
Paul Gilroy QC, representing Mr Kansal, asked whether the comments should have at least warranted Mr Campbell being invited to a disciplinary meeting. Mr Dunkley said he recommended Mr Campbell be sent on a diversity training course.
The court also heard a number of “grossly offensive” sexist and racist jokes that were circulated “on a regular basis” among Tullet Prebon staff and third parties. Mr Campbell forwarded some of the material to his personal email, the court heard.
Under cross-examination Mr Dunkley admitted the material was “racist” and “in very bad taste” and that he would have expected Mr Campbell to have deleted the emails.
The tribunal also heard an email from Tullet Prebon employee Maulik Patel headed “racist Bill strikes again”, a reference to similar material allegedly circulated by his colleague William Arnold, one of six individual respondents who have been named alongside the company in Mr Kansal’s claim.
Mr Patel wrote: “I can’t take this level of racism anymore. I’m going to have a word with HR about [Bill].”
Mr Gilroy told Mr Dunkley that after one younger team member, Kipp Elkington, told him during his investigation into Mr Kansal’s grievance claim that all the Alternative Investments team were “capable of racist, homophobic and sexist comments” the matter was “simply dropped”.
Quoting from the interview, Mr Gilroy said: “Neil Campbell is the head of the desk and the culture comes from him. If Kishore is attacking Neil Campbell he is attacking the culture of the desk’. Did that not ring alarm bells in your head?”
Mr Dunkley replied: “It did… that all of the desk was acting inappropriately. Neil should have stopped it.”
In his interview with Mr Dunkley, Mr Campbell described Mr Kansal as “not a team player” and that he did not mix socially as much as the rest of the team.
Mr Gilroy asked: “It’s a frequent factor or race discrimination cases that the person complaining of it is described [in this way]. Is this the first time you’ve heard that?”
Mr Dunkley said it was. The court heard further allegations that British Asian staff at Tullet Prebon were regularly referred to individually as “terrorist” and in a group as a “terror cell”. Mr Campbell is also alleged to have called a Chinese flatmate of Mr Elkington’s as “Mr Chow”, a reference to a character from the film The Hangover II.
Mr Dunkley was simultaneously conducting a separate investigation into Mr Kansal for alleged misuse of company data, the tribunal heard. He eventually sacked Mr Kansal in absentia for gross misconduct. Mr Gilroy questioned whether it was appropriate for Mr Dunkley to preside over both investigations, both of which were concluded in close proximity in January this year.
The tribunal continues.