Colleagues told Mrs Jenkins-Hurrell they were ‘scared’ of her and one said ‘what are you going to do, work your voodoo’ (Picture: Google Maps/Getty)
A black school cleaner has won more than £6,000 after a colleague made a racist joke about her using ‘voodoo’ against him.
Annmarie Jenkins-Hurrell, who is of West Indian origin, was subjected to the ‘degrading and offensive’ remark from a caretaker.
An employment tribunal heard that colleagues told Mrs Jenkins-Hurrell they were ‘scared’ of her and one said ‘what are you going to do, work your voodoo’ if she didn’t get something she had asked for.
But after she complained, the school dismissed her grievance, leading her to resign. She has now won a pay out after the tribunal concluded she had been unfairly dismissed.
Mrs Jenkins-Hurrell worked as a cleaner at The Campion School, a Roman Catholic boys’ secondary school and sixth form in Hornchurch, London for almost five years from January 2014.
A virtual hearing held at East London Tribunal Centre heard that Mrs Jenkins-Hurrell was the only one of 11 cleaners who was black, while all the other cleaners were white.
The Campion School in Hornchurch (Picture: Google Maps)
The tribunal heard that, in the autumn of 2017, Mrs Jenkins-Hurrell and Christopher Conner, the site manager, were having a conversation about washing her cleaning cloths.
Mr Conner had arranged for another member of staff to wash all cloths, for which she would be paid extra, but Mrs Jenkins-Hurrell said that she normally undertook this herself and queried the additional pay arrangements.
The cleaner then told him that she expected her cloths to be washed and clean for the Monday morning.
She told the tribunal that in response to this, Paul Day the caretaker said: ‘Oh so if you’re not going to get clean cloths by Monday what are you going to do, work your voodoo?’
Ruling that Mr Day had made the remark, the tribunal said: ‘Referring to an elderly black woman of West Indian origin working her voodoo is an unwanted racially offensive comment,’ it said.
‘The comment had both the purpose and the effect of violating [her] dignity and was both degrading and offensive.’
However, it was not until at least six months later Mrs Jenkins-Hurrell raised the racist comment to her bosses. She also claimed she was being excluded from being given extra shifts as the only black female cleaner.
In May 2018 at a meeting to discuss her complaints, headteacher Keith Williams was found to have behaved in a ‘hostile and intimidating’ way towards the cleaner.
Following this meeting, Mrs Jenkins-Hurrell wrote a formal letter of complaint to the board of governors which led to an investigation being opened by the assistant headteacher Georgina Peters, a former police officer and science teacher at the school.
This investigation found no evidence of harassment or bullying. However, the tribunal found that this investigation was ‘fundamentally unfair’ and ‘wholly inappropriate’.
Mrs Jenkins-Hurrell then resigned in November 2018. In her resignation letter she said: …read more
Source:: Metro News
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