“Deeply flawed” investigation contributes to successful race discrimination claim
A London Tribunal has awarded just over £16,000 to a trainee emergency call operator for race discrimination following an inadequate disciplinary process by his employer Partnership of East London Cooperatives (PELC).
Jerry Ogbonna was suspended without pay five days into his employment following accusations that he was consuming and distributing illegal drugs to his colleagues. The subsequent investigation did not properly identify what drugs or substances were consumed or by whom, or even establish the legality of the drugs in question. He had in fact been using an off-the-shelf caffeine supplement widely available in supermarkets.
The Tribunal found that the accusations that Ogbonna had consumed ‘smart’ drugs were “a series of speculation and innuendo devoid of real substance and containing surprisingly little facts”. While there was no deliberate falsification, the Tribunal was harsh in its judgement of the way the investigation was conducted. “The investigation did not properly identify what drugs or substances were consumed and by whom. The investigation did not clarify who else was given such drugs or substances. Astonishingly the investigation did not ascertain the legality of such drugs or substances…The conclusions of the investigation were wholly unsustainable. This was a deeply flawed investigation at every level.”