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Post Office pays out for Racial Discrimination

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The Post Office paid £19,757.19 in damages on Friday, after management at their Preston office were found to have selectively applied performance tests, leading to racial discrimination. An Employment Tribunal in Manchester made the award last month, and condemned the Post Office for its recruitment practices.

The Tribunal found that Mrs Nagamani Mallidi, a postal worker of Indian origin, had received ‘less favourable treatment’ than her white counterparts. She was asked to take a written aptitude test in order to remain in employment, when a number of comparable white employees were given temporary or permanent contracts without having to take a test. The Tribunal stated that they were extremely unhappy about the way the Post Office operated in terms of its treatment of Asian employees. They said that the Post Office had failed to explain why the test was applied rigorously in certain cases and not in others.

When Mrs Mallidi made a complaint of racial discrimination, the management failed to investigate the matter with any seriousness. The Tribunal found this failure to address legitimate complaints to be direct discrimination on grounds of race.

The Commission for Racial Equality (CRE) first took up Mrs Mallidi’s case in August 1998. Announcing the award decision today, Mr. Eric Seward, Regional Director for the CRE North of England said: “This case sends a strong message to the Royal Mail and to other large employers of the need to review their recruitment practices and ensure there is proper provision for equal opportunities. In this day and age nepotism and word of mouth are totally unacceptable forms of recruitment and, with the predominance of white people in managerial positions, is likely to lead to discrimination of ethnic minority groups.”

The CRE has a significant role to play in advising organisations how to comply with racial equality legislation. Employers can stamp out race discrimination, and the costs of litigation – by ensuring their equal opportunities policies are put into action.

In a statement, Mrs Mallidi said: “Based on my experience, I would encourage anyone who feels they have been discriminated against to seek help from organisations who can advise you about your rights. Had it not been for the CRE I would not have been able to pursue my case and their help has been invaluable.”

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