Want to talk to an expert employment law solicitor?

You'll receive a callback from a specialist within an hour

In the case of Barnes v Robinsons of Worcester Aggregates Ltd 1301295/2017 the Employment Tribunal held that Mr Barnes had been unfairly dismissed and subjected to race discrimination when he was dismissed on allegations that he had driven dangerously.

The facts in Barnes v Robinsons of Worcester Aggregates Ltd

Mr Barnes, who is black Afro-Caribbean, commenced employment with Semex UK on 3 August 2014 and his employment transferred to Robinsons of Worcester Aggregates Ltd (“WAL”) as a lorry driver on 1 August 2013.

On 6 December 2016 Mr Barnes was delivering aggregates to Semex, Rugby – a run which he made every day, several times a day. There was an accident on this day, with a car driving into the side of Mr Barnes’ lorry. A video camera recorded Mr Barnes’ line of sight but did not capture the accident. The Semex depot was only a short distance away and Mr Barnes drove in, with a confrontation then ensuing between Mr Barnes and the driver of the other car. The foreman of the depot inspected the third-party vehicle and noted some damage, but he did not take a statement from the other driver as to what had occurred. He did, however, take a statement from Mr Barnes.

An investigation occurred into the accident, with Mr Robinson forming a mistaken view that Mr Barnes was aware of the presence of the other car before he started his manoeuvres prior to the accident occurring – this mistake was based on a mis-interpretation of Mr Barnes’ statement. Mrs Bellerby, the member of Human Resources responsible for advising on the investigation, was aware that Mr Robinson had a strong view that Mr Barnes was culpable for the accident. No written report was produced of the investigation and Mr Barnes was never asked to clarify ambiguities in his statement.

A disciplinary hearing took place on 3 January 2017 which Mr Aldridge, Mrs Bellerby, Mr Barnes, and Mr Ross (Mr Barnes’ trade union representative) attended. However, Mr Aldridge was too nervous to undertake the hearing and Mrs Bellerby in fact undertook it. The notes of the hearing were brief, given that the hearing was just over two hours in length. Mrs Bellerby made a decision at the end of the hearing that Mr Barnes should be dismissed for gross misconduct – this was based on two issues: 1) that she found that Mr Ross had admitted that Mr Barnes had gone through a red light (whereas in fact he had not admitted such); and 2) that Mr Barnes had admitted in his original statement that he was responsible for the crash (this, again, was based on a misinterpretation of Mr Barnes’ statement). During the meeting there was an adjournment, in which Mrs Bellerby called Mr Robinson (she stated that she discussed the case with him but did not remember specifics).

An appeal was then submitted by Mr Barnes on 10 January 2017, with Mr Barnes complaining that his dismissal was discriminatory and harsh. An appeal hearing was held and the appeal was rejected by WAL.

The decision of the Employment Tribunal in Barnes v Robinsons of Worcester Aggregates Ltd

The Employment Tribunal upheld Mr Barnes’ claims for unfair dismissal and direct race discrimination.

Unfair dismissal

The Tribunal found that the dismissal was unfair for the following reasons:

  • A wholly inadequate investigation was undertaken;
  • There were no grounds for believing that Mr Barnes was guilty of aggressive or dangerous driving;
  • No reasonable employer would have rejected Mr Barnes’ explanation that he had checked his mirror, signalled, and established it was safe to move before he began his manoeuvre; and that no reasonable employer would have ignored the fact that at the time of the disciplinary and appeal hearings the third party’s insurers were admitting liability for the accident

Direct race discrimination

The Tribunal upheld Mr Barnes’ claims for direct race discrimination on the following grounds:

  • Mr Barnes was the only black person employed by WAL – all of the other drivers were white, though not necessarily white British;
  • That he had been dismissed by WAL after the accident; and
  • That white lorry drivers (Mr Barnes and Mr Misca) and  were not dismissed in circumstances where there had been similar accidents

The Tribunal found that there were sufficient facts from which it could infer that discrimination could have been a reason for Mr Barnes’ dismissal, and found that there was no reasonable alternative explanation for his dismissal.

Our solicitors’ view on Barnes v Robinsons of Worcester Aggregates Ltd

Chris Hadrill, a specialist employment solicitor at Redmans, commented on the case: “Employers must take care to ensure that disciplinary processes are followed properly and fairly, as a failure to do so (as in this case) may not only render a dismissal unfair but discriminatory.”

The judgment of the Employment Tribunal can be found here.

About

Redmans Employment Team deal with employment matters for both employers and employees, including drafting employment contracts and policies, advising employers and employees on compromise agreements, handling day-to-day HR issues, advising on restructures, and handling Employment Tribunal cases for both employers and employees Call 020 3397 3603 to speak to one of the members of our employment team or email us on enquiries@redmans.co.uk. Redmans have offices in Richmond, Chiswick, Hammersmith, Fulham, Kingston, Wimbledon, Ealing, Kings Cross and Marylebone (meetings strictly by appointment only).

Want to talk to an expert employment law solicitor?

You'll receive a callback from a specialist within an hour

Share →

Our awards

Request a callback

Your name

Your email

Your telephone number

Contact us

Please feel free to discuss your own position and concerns. Contact your nearest office on:

T: 020 3397 3603
E: enquiries@redmans.co.uk
W: www.redmans.co.uk

Testimonials

4.70 Average

76 Reviews

Margaret

Redmans Solicitors took a lot of the worry away and were very thoughtful and meticulous in their dealings with my case , thank you very mush , great service and a great job

Posted 1 week ago

Mark B

Prompt efficient service. Hourly, and part thereof, billing got a bit stressful at times - as opposed to flat fee - made me think twice about sending an email or making a quick call when I had a query because it would have eaten up minutes from my budget. But happy with the legal service I received overall and would recommend.

Posted 1 week ago

Anonymous

Chris Hadrill has provided a truly wonderful service and was willing to lend his support and expertise at a time when other solicitors, only wanted to discuss their fees! A clear thinking and down to earth professional, Chris can be trusted to listen carefully to your matter, cut through the fog, and advise you on the best (and most realistic) way forward, saving you time, money and heartache. It will be helpful if you first get your ducks in a row in terms of documents / evidence etc. and then contact Chris, (that’s what we did) as this will help your matter to be dealt with faster. The more organised and together you are the more successful you will be. You'll be fine with Chris, I highly recommend him. Good luck!

Posted 2 weeks ago

Richard v

Excellent Service

Posted 3 weeks ago

Anonymous

Very happy from service received. Highly recommend

Posted 3 weeks ago

Colin W

Very professional and thorough. Sachs who dealt with the bulk of my case was excellent Thank you. .

Posted 3 weeks ago

Anonymous

I was generally impressed with the fast turn around, efficiency, responsiveness, and consideration of circumstances. I needed a couple of areas of advice quickly and with Redmans help was able to get to a conclusion quickly and with minimum stress. They were friendly and professional throughout - I'd use them again.

Posted 4 weeks ago

Anonymous

The guidance and assistance I recently received when using Redman's was fantastic. Caroline & Chris were both very informative and understanding walking me through each step. Thank you.

Posted 1 month ago

Nicola W

Fantastic service, very quick and efficient. Thank you

Posted 1 month ago

Anonymous

Excellent professional service.

Posted 1 month ago

Anonymous

As with All solicitors advice without consequence but understood and communicated my legal position

Posted 2 months ago

Anonymous

Prompt, professional and excellent service.

Posted 2 months ago

Dominic C

Excellent service, prompt and helpful

Posted 2 months ago

Anonymous

I found Redman’s to be very efficient and got me the best deal available in the short time scale that was available.

Posted 2 months ago

Victor L

Very professional. Provided excellent advice on my Settlement agreement.

Posted 2 months ago

Anonymous

Professional from start to finish.

Posted 2 months ago

Oliver W

Excellent service provided by Redmans, will certainly consider using again.

Posted 2 months ago

Melanie H

Very professional and extremely personable service. Thank you very much.

Posted 2 months ago

Anonymous

I found Chris to be very approachable and easy to speak with about complex matters. He took action quickly and his updates to me, as his client, were prompt. I would recommend Chris and the team at Redmans without hesitation.

Posted 2 months ago

Anonymous

Good advice

Posted 2 months ago

Anonymous

Overall happy with the service provided by Chris and Rana.

Posted 2 months ago