Racist IT department slammed by tribunal

IT departments must do more to stamp out racism following the recent case of an IT manager at DaimlerChrysler who was subjected...

IT departments must do more to stamp out racism following the recent case of an IT manager at DaimlerChrysler who was subjected to months of racist abuse and then made redundant in a "sham" dismissal.

Palestinian Khalid Jayyosi, 29, won a race discrimination claim against his employer after having endured months of racist slurs, including colleagues changing his computer password to "suicide bomber". The treatment culminated in Jayyosi being made redundant in what the employment tribunal last month branded a "sham".

Colleagues, including a senior IT manager, asked Jayyosi if he was a bomb maker, compared him to an 11 September terrorist and told him to "go back to Sangatte" if he did not like the UK. He is in line to receive up to £200,000 in compensation.

The case follows a similar incident last November where two German IT consultants complained of the racial abuse they suffered at Motorola's UK headquarters in Swindon. IT consultants Jens Puhle and Heinrich Sawatzki said colleagues gave them Nazi nicknames and goose-stepped around the office.

Makbool Javaid, a partner in the employment law practice at law firm DLA, said a key problem with IT departments is that they tend to be left to their own devices because management is not always aware of their function.

Javaid said the damage to DaimlerChrysler will far exceed the potential £200,000 settlement, and that the case would affect its reputation and damage its ability to attract staff.

Jayyosi was head of IT R&D at DaimlerChrysler's Milton Keynes base from August 2001 and was made redundant in June 2002. In an appraisal in December 2001, Jayyosi's line manager awarded him the highest possible rating in three areas: "individual performance", "values" and "overall performance rating".

The employment tribunal found DaimlerChrysler guilty of race discrimination for making Jayyosi redundant.

A spokeswoman for DaimlerChrysler insisted Jayyosi was made redundant owing to "structural changes". She could not give details of any other staff singled out for redundancy. "We are reviewing all our processes and policies to make sure that nothing like this will ever happen again - we are not a discriminatory company," she said.

However, she refused to comment on whether the company had launched an internal investigation into the incident, or if any staff had been suspended or dismissed.

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