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13th August, 2012

Employment Tribunal decision makes legal history


British legal history has been made as the first black football player succeeds in a claim for racial victimisation against a professional team. Former striker Mark McCammon was also found to have been unfairly dismissed by Gillingham FC.

Race (which includes colour, nationality, ethnic origins and national origins) is a protected characteristic under anti-discrimination law. Racial victimisation occurs where someone is treated less favourably than others in the same circumstances because they have complained about racial discrimination, or supported someone who has.

At the hearing, Mark McCammon claimed that whilst playing for Gillingham FC he “was put through hell” and that they had tried to “frustrate him out”. He said that he, along with other black players at the football club, had been treated differently and less favourably to some white players. Mr McCammon said that after suffering an injury the club refused to pay for his private medical care. Instead he was offered an operation on the NHS, whereas a white team mate was flown to Dubai to see a specialist. When he paid to see a private consultant, he was deducted two week’s wages. Mr McCammon told the tribunal: “the way the chairman approached the matter was that he saw my injury as a way to get rid of any financial obligations such as my wages he might have as a result of my contract”. During treacherous snowy conditions, certain white players were told they were not required to attend the football ground but he and two other black players were told their wages would be docked if they did not. Mr McCammon was dismissed for racism and aggressive conduct after he accused the team manager of being racially intolerant.

On hearing the decision Mr McCammon’s solicitor commented: “Mr McCammon hopes that his success will make other players feel free to raise legitimate complaints of discrimination.” Paul Scally, chairman of Gillingham FC, says they are “staggered” by the decision and will be appealing the ruling by the Employment Tribunal.

For further advice on discrimination issues, please contact Helen Watson on 01244 405565 or email [email protected]

 


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