UK immigration officer wins £16k after unfair dismissal case

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Despite allegedly using racial slurs, a former UK immigration officer for the Border Force has been awarded more than £16,000 in compensation following an employment tribunal. Joel Gold was accused of gross misconduct, with witnesses claiming that he used ‘racially offensive language’, while employed as a Border Force UK immigration officer.


The London South Employment Tribunal ruled that Mr Gold, although dismissed on the ‘potentially fair’ grounds of gross misconduct, was subjected to an unfair Home Office investigation, disciplinary hearing and appeal process, which gave him ‘no opportunity to prove his innocence.’

Colleagues of the former UK immigration officer claim that Mr Gold used a number of racial slurs including ‘Gooks’ – referring to Vietnamese nationals, ‘Paki’ – describing one of his co-workers and ‘King of the Jungle’ – referring to a black colleague.


Taliban Tom

Gold was also accused of using the term ‘Taliban Tom’ and saying that he wouldn’t hire any ‘fat women.’ However, these allegations were not used as part of the investigation against him.

The investigation into Gold and the claims made by his co-workers faced lengthy delays by the Home Office. It’s reported that around 10 weeks passed prior to the first allegation and the first witness being interviewed. With the witness not taking any notes, the employment tribunal said that many memories of the incident would have ‘inevitably faded’.

According to the tribunal, two of the witnesses testifying against Gold ‘didn’t get on with him’, which was not adequately considered by the investigating manager. Although the Home Office deemed that the witnesses weren’t lying about the incidents, though some details were disputed, it was assumed that Gold was lying.

Ultimately, the tribunal found that Mr Gold was not given ample opportunity to give his side of the story.


Disciplinary process failings

Meanwhile, the tribunal pointed to a series of disciplinary process failings, including reliance on evidence compiled during interviews conducted by the same investigating manager. The investigating manager is said to have ‘drawn conclusions that were unreliable and went beyond her mandate.

The investigating manager was accused of basing decisions on witness statements that were ‘in a different format’ to those given to Gold, and failing to give the former UK immigration officer the ‘benefit of the doubt.’

Despite Mr Gold reportedly apologising for any possible offence caused, the investigating manager took this as an admission of guilt, despite Mr Gold filing a statement denying that he had said anything that would cause offence.

Judge Timothy Russell said: “Essentially, there appears to have been insufficient concern to make the procedure fair for this employee. The focus was, whilst attempting to follow Home Office procedure, to find fault with the claimant and either ignore or give no or little credence to his alternative explanation.”

“There was no obvious attempt to step back and consider the overall fairness of procedure. The overall feeling one has, I have, is that the claimant had no chance of establishing his innocence and the die was cast at an early stage… It was simply that the bar was set too high, unfairly so, for the claimant to prove his innocence,” Judge Russell added.


Gold brushed aside

The judge was of the opinion that Mr Gold’s version of events was repeatedly brushed aside in favour of the witnesses speaking against him.

According to the final judgement, the decision to dismiss Gold from his role was taken ‘without the balancing act one would expect to see in a considered and fair analysis of the evidence, especially by a large well-resourced organisation.’

Judge Russell said: “The respondent was too ready to give the witnesses against him the benefit of the doubt and too reluctant to do the same for the claimant.”

“Although one cannot expect a perfect procedure for any dismissal, a reasonable employer owes it to any employee, certainly a long service employee in a managerial position, to identify and examine closely any flaws in the accusations made,” Judge Russell said.

The employment tribunal stated that the Home Office should have looked at the option of further training for Mr Gold, which it said ‘would have reflected the stated purpose of the disciplinary procedure.

In total, the Home Office was ordered to pay Mr Gold £16,371.27 in compensation. can help with Tier 2 Visa Sponsor Licences and Tier 2 Visas

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