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London Underground employee loses claims for race discrimination and unfair dismissal after £2,100 went missing from ticket machines

Makbool Javaid, Partner - Simons Muirhead & Burton

In Kachikwuo Amaechi-Onwukanjo v London Underground Ltd the Claimant was a Customer Services Assistant. He started with London Underground Ltd on 01 February 2016. Kachikwuo Amaechi-Onwukanjo said that TfL’s HR team told him he should resign after the organisation found that there was a discrepancy of £2100 between the recorded cash amount and actual cash collected on its ticket machines on two occasions in the summer of 2019 at the station when he was working.

The tribunal was presented with nearly 500 pages of evidence which set out Mr Amaechi-Onwukanjo’s duties as a customer service assistant and his role in collecting cash from ticket machines. He had no history of gross misconduct up until he was suspended in December 2019 regarding the missing cash. He was investigated and then fired in June 2020.

TfL referred the cash shortfalls to an independent forensic investigator who concluded that the machines were working correctly and that the £2100 was not miscounted nor did it appear elsewhere in the system incorrectly. The tribunal heard that TfL has a strong record on disciplining staff for “failure to account” for missing money and almost all lose their jobs for gross misconduct as Mr Amaechi-Onwukanjo did. According to a TfL HR representative around a dozen of these types of cases are investigated this year.

Mr Amaechi-Onwukanjo claimed that the reason the TfL HR team advised him to resign was on the basis of racial discrimination as colleagues with Turkish and Polish surnames did not receive this advice. TfL denied ever advising its former employee to resign – as by resigning before bring fired, he could have been able to retain some of his travel/pension privileges. The tribunal concluded that whatever the facts were, there was no racial prejudice which occurred, dismissing the claim unanimously and entirely.

The tribunal also concluded that under TfL’s policy and investigation, Mr Amaechi-Onwukanjo was ultimately let go for incorrect cash handling procedures (known as “failing to account”), not for theft and TfL was able to prove that he did not follow the correct procedure.

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