Black immigration worker awarded £65,000 for racial discrimination

A black immigration worker who was made redundant by a refugee charity has been awarded more than £65,000 at an employment tribunal.

The tribunal ruled that Emmanuel Obikwu, 45, was unfairly singled out by the British Refugee Council when his Home Office-run immigration centre was closed. While he and another black colleague lost their jobs at the Oakington Immigration Centre, near Cambridge, in May 2006, the remaining workers, all of whom were white, were promoted to new posts.

He was awarded £65,475 for unfair dismissal, racial discrimination, psychiatric injury and loss of earnings. His Tanzanian-born colleague, Zaina Ukwaju, was awarded £30,000 in January after suffering racial discrimination.

The British Refugee Council claimed that Obikwu would have lost his job in May 2006 regardless of his skin colour. But the Suffolk employment tribunal ruled it was likely that operations manager Anne-Marie Leech “subconsciously” favoured friends when selecting members of staff to be made redundant.

A spokesman for the British Refugee Council said it had reviewed procedures to ensure staff were treated equally.

“We have reviewed our [anti-discrimination] procedures. We regret the distress the process has caused Obikwu,” a spokesman said.

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