26 September 2023

WALES: Agency found to create ‘hostile environment’

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A Welsh Public Servant has won her claim for race and age discrimination against the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

The Department was ordered to pay £386,000 ($A700,000) after Anne Giwa-Amu (pictured) told a court it was “promoting a culture of racism”.

The judge in her tribunal case said she had been a victim of deliberate and intended harassment by Department staff.

Ms Giwa-Amu (59), who has Nigerian and Welsh heritage, joined the DWP branch in Caerphilly as a full-time Administrative Officer in 2017.

She was the only non-white recruit and only trainee over the age of 50 in her cohort, according to documents from Cardiff Magistrates’ Court.

Judge Howden-Evans said DWP staff had deliberately created a “hostile environment” for Ms Giwa-Amu and ordered the Department to pay £386,000 in compensation.

This includes £42,800 ($A77,600) for injury to feelings, which is awarded in the most serious cases where there has been a lengthy campaign of harassment.

“It comes as a relief after what has been a harrowing experience for three years,” Ms Giwa-Amu said.

“I’ve had to experience real financial hardship and the perpetrators were promoted despite how they had treated me,” she said.

The court found a DWP official had violated her dignity by using racist language such as “Paki-lover” in her presence.

Another had further humiliated and discriminated against Ms Giwa-Amu by loudly laughing and telling her cohort he had “touched her bum”.

Officials had also repeatedly accused Ms Giwa-Amu of stealing ice-cream, sprayed body-spray on themselves while next to her, and breached her confidence after she reported feeling “bullied”.

Ms Giwa-Amu went on sick leave in March 2017 and was unlawfully dismissed in October that year for being unable to return to work, the court found.

She had been living off £55 ($A100) a week and later had no money for food after her final pay cheque was withheld.

In a statement, the DWP said racism was totally unacceptable and action would be taken against any staff found to be expressing such views.

Cardiff, 1 June 2020

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