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Senior manager at wins discrimination case after being ‘racially profiled’ by boss

The tribunal was told she got off to a ‘terrific start’ and bosses said she demonstrated ‘strong leadership’.

In the case of Mrs T F v Johnson and Johnson Medical Limited Mrs TF began working as a senior manager at the US multinational company in April 2017 specialising in global strategic insights.

Mrs TF – who is a dual British and Nigerian national – reported to Director for Strategic Insights and Analytics Mrs T, who considered the pair had ‘a good relationship’ in which they’d exchange gifts and snacks, discuss personal matters and share birthday lunches.

As her time at the company progressed, Mrs TF started to feel ‘snowed under’ by her workload, the tribunal heard.

She said she felt as if she were ‘working round the clock, barely getting four hours sleep a day, and she was not seeing her children’.

The senior manager told Mrs T this and claimed that her boss ‘scolded’ her for turning down requests to carry out projects.

The tribunal heard that in April 2018 the pair went on a work trip to Jacksonville, Florida, USA, during which Mrs TF claimed Mrs T ignored her for their first day there.

Upon returning from the problematic trip, the pair joined for a one-to-one meeting in which the senior manager was presented with what she described as a ‘racially profiling document’.

According to Mrs TF, she told her boss at the start of the meeting that she wanted to discuss the breakdown in their communication and relationship.

In response, Mrs T allegedly said, ‘I know I’ve been poking you’ and proceeded to explain that she had ‘researched Nigeria and realised that she was very different to Nigerians in many ways’.

The senior manager said she was ‘very upset and pained’ by what was said to her and said this was the point that she gave up on trying to repair her relationship with her boss.

However, Mrs T viewed the encounter differently, and insisted she showed Mrs TF a report on ‘cultural fluency’.

After raising a grievance against her bosses, Mrs TF was subsequently dismissed in early 2020 due to continual absences.

Employment Judge Andrew Gumbiti-Zimuto concluded she had been discriminated against by the ‘profiling exercise’ used by Mrs T.

He said: ‘It aligned Mrs TF with a Nigerian workstyle in a manner which contained some lazy stereotypes such as references to “African time”, and which Mrs TF found to be insensitive and upsetting.

‘In communicating the findings of this document, it was stated to Mrs TF that she possessed ‘Nigerian traits’.

‘We are satisfied that Mrs TF could reasonably consider that she was disadvantaged in the workplace by reason of being told that this exercise had been carried out and was being actively used to manage her.

Her compensation will be decided at a later hearing.

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