Family claims race bias after son’s suicide

A family has won the right to bring the first posthumous employment tribunal on behalf of their son who they claim killed himself because of racial abuse at work.

Postal worker Jermaine Lee, 26, was found hanged at his home in Hall Green, Birmingham, in November 1999. His family say he had been bullied and harassed at work over an eight-month period before he was sacked from the Aston sorting office in the city.

An internal investigation by the Royal Mail has led to the suspension of six staff and the sorting office manager was dismissed.

Tribunal chairman John Van Gelder allowed Jermaine’s mother, Unnell Lee, to lodge the action on behalf of her son at a preliminary hearing in Birmingham, despite claims she had exceeded the usual time limit.

Navneet Patwalia, the solicitor for the family, said, “The family wants to highlight the issue of racial discrimination as much as possible to prevent any further action of this kind.”

A Royal Mail spokesman said, “We will be looking very closely at all the details and continuing to talk to the family between now and any tribunal to do anything we can to help them. We want to make sure that anything that needs to be put right is put right.

“At this stage there may be elements we wish to contest.”

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