DWP must pay woman £400,000 after she wins claim for race and age discrimination

Chris Young/PA Archive/PA Images

A woman will receive a payout of almost £400,000 after winning a claim for age and race discrimination against the Department for Work and Pensions.

Anne Giwa-Amu, who is of mixed Nigerian and Welsh descent, started at the DWP branch in Caerphilly as an administration officer in 2017. She was the only non-white recruit and trainee over 50 in her cohort.

The court heard how another DWP had used racist language such as “Paki-lover”, while another had laughed at her and told colleagues that he had “touched her bum”. Giwa-Amu was accused of stealing ice cream, and workers would spray body spray on themselves while next to her.

She went on sick leave in March 2017 and was unlawfully dismissed in October that year for being unable to return to work, according to the tribunal. Her final pay cheque had been withheld and she had been living off £55 per week, the court heard.

Judge Howden-Evans said DWP staff had deliberately created a “hostile environment” for Giwa-Amu and ordered the department to pay out more than £386,000 in compensation, including £42,800 for injury to feelings.

Giwa-Amu told BBC reporters that the court’s decision was a relief “after what has been a harrowing experience for three years”.

“I’ve had to experience real financial hardship and the perpetrators were promoted despite how they had treated me.”

The DWP said that it took the judgment “very seriously” and that racism was unacceptable. It has been ordered to contact the Equality and Human Rights Commission for diversity awareness training and its permanent secretary, Peter Schofield, must directly review her case.

But Giwa-Amu said the department was only “paying lip service to the equality legislation”.

“By protecting offenders, they are promoting a culture of racism,” she said.

Lawrence Davies from Equal Justice, her solicitor, said DWP staff had deliberately set out to “destroy the confidence and wellbeing of a black employee”.

“None of the white DWP staff have been disciplined and some have been promoted,” he said.

“Given that the DWP serves a high level of ethnic minority claimants, the presence of prejudice in the state benefits system is of grave concern.”

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6 Responses to DWP must pay woman £400,000 after she wins claim for race and age discrimination

  1. Avatar
    Tim Lister 25 Feb 2020 at 12:45 pm #

    How can someone be ‘unlawfully dismissed’ if they’ve refused to work for 8 months?

    • Avatar
      Laura Wilson 26 Feb 2020 at 6:59 am #

      She was on sick leave. Read the article

    • Avatar
      Brian 29 Jun 2020 at 9:34 am #

      I broke my arm, company got rid of me on grounds of capability after 3 months nothing I could do,this amount for her is disgusting,she jumped on racist bandwagon.

  2. Avatar
    Evan 25 Feb 2020 at 10:57 pm #

    Can’t see how they could have possibly come to that figure based on the allegations in the article. “They sprayed deodorant on themselves” oh the humanity!

  3. Avatar
    Rhys 27 Feb 2020 at 10:03 am #

    It was reported that she worked for only 4 weeks and went sick in 5th week. I certainly don’t agree with the prejudice meted out but £400,000. Come on!

  4. Avatar
    John Phillips 2 Mar 2020 at 12:02 pm #

    I understand that several of the recruits had never worked before. They probably had no idea of how to behave acceptably in the workplace, in particular the seriousness of discriminatory and harassing behaviour. I wonder if they were made aware of this before they joined the course?

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