Maldon District Council employee who reported supervisor was unfairly dismissed

A former council officer who reported on his supervisor for allegedly making racist, sexist and homophobic remarks was unfairly dismissed, an employment tribunal has found.

Working as a parks and countryside officer for Maldon District Council, Marc Ramsden claimed he faced a backlash after reporting the supervisor for making offensive comments.

According to the tribunal report, the supervisor was dismissed after his complaint.

A section read: “On 21 August 2017, the Claimant emailed the Respondent’s Chief Executive, raising concerns about a supervisor in the Parks Team and tendering his resignation. This prompted an investigation into the conduct of the supervisor, who was subsequently dismissed.”

Mr Ramsden told the Local Democracy Reporting Service he was awarded £47,955.58 in compensation, but this was reduced to £21,261.74 to reflect a chance he would have been fairly dismissed had a fair procedure been followed.

The tribunal concluded he was made redundant because of his low score in an assessment he underwent after having to reapply for his job.

The district council says Mr Ramsden was not selected for redundancy for any ulterior reasons.

A spokesperson for Maldon District Council said: “The district council will not comment on specific cases, however we take any allegation seriously and investigate any complaints of discrimination and will take appropriate action.

“With respect to the recent employment tribunal, the tribunal did not uphold the claims made by the claimant in relation to the allegations that the claimant had been targeted for redundancy.

“We will consider the learning outcomes from the judgement of this case.”

Mr Ramsden told the LDRS his former supervisor let out a “torrent” of racial abuse after a black man had asked a question about a parking machine in Promenade Park in 2017.

He said in a statement: “Over the next couple of months I would sit in meetings with the other all male members of the team and listen to the supervisor being sexist, homophobic, racist and misogynistic.

“He would make racist comments about travellers, people of colour and Jews. He would make sexist and misogynistic comments about female members of staff and the public, talking about what he would like to do to them in a sexual way and scoring them out of 10.”

Mr Ramsden also claimed he had been badly treated after returning to his job.

The tribunal judgement confirmed he submitted a formal grievance in May 2019 complaining he had been perceived as having “got a good man the sack”.

After a restructuring later that year, Mr Ramsden was made redundant after having to reapply for his job, the tribunal continues.

According to the tribunal report, he was also mistakenly interviewed for a level three role, higher than the level one role he previously occupied, meaning his questions were more difficult to answer.

Consequently, he struggled, scoring the lowest of out 11 candidates.

The tribunal also criticised the council for its “impressionistic” way of applying the selection criteria.

Rather, the panel’s subjective opinion of who performed poorly at interview was used to decide the number of jobs it would cut and the pass mark, which it raised to from 77 to 80 per cent after the process had been completed.

Whilst it found he had been unfairly dismissed, the tribunal left open the possibility of fair dismissal if a fair procedure had been followed.

Mr Ramsden’s compensation was reduced by 50 per cent to reflect this.

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Charlie Ridler

Local Democracy Reporter