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

4.62 Average

53 Reviews

Anonymous

Both Rana and Chris were fantastic. From the first phone call I was confident my matter was in good hands. I was not disappointed. I would highly recommend Redmans. Thank you again for all of your support and advice.

Posted 3 days ago

Federico S

Great advices and communication. Through Redmana I obtained match more than what I thought. Highly recommended

Posted 5 days ago

Tom G

A good and efficient service with the required legal advice provided for a settlement agreement.

Posted 5 days ago

Francis T

The solicitor I used was Chris Hadrill, who I found extremely professional and I felt that he made me feel at ease, considering the subject matter he was assisting me with.

Posted 1 week ago

Anonymous

Chris provided excellent assistance with the negotiation of my settlement agreement. From start to finish, I was consitently updated and advised on the best course of action to take. I would highly recommend Chris and Redmans Solicitors.

Posted 1 week ago

Anonymous

They are busy people but manage well so generally I would recommend them.

Posted 1 week ago

Anonymous

Very efficient and professional service from my first phone call making an enquiry. Timescales of the matter in hand were met and within the agreed budget. Would highly recommend Redmans

Posted 3 weeks ago

Lisa B

Really very good service, always available to answer questions, provide my with any information I needed to make informed decisions.

Posted 3 weeks ago

Anonymous

Offered good support and advice

Posted 3 weeks ago

Anonymous

Chris reviewed and managed my compromise agreement swiftly, accurately, helpfully, and on budget. His input on key non-compete clauses was valuable, his communications were clear and concise, and he was always swift in responding. Highly recommended.

Posted 3 weeks ago

Gurbir C

Excellent legal advice service.

Posted 3 weeks ago

Tim

I found Redmans to be very helpful and efficient in conducting my case which was concluded in a timely and diligent manner

Posted 3 weeks ago

Anonymous

I found Redman Solicitors to be very good and worked very well to an extremely tight timescale. I would happily recommend them again especially Rana.

Posted 3 weeks ago

Anonymous

I received excellent, knowledgeable and critically timely support from Chris regarding my settlement agreement, and would wholeheartedly recommend Chris in these matters.

Posted 3 weeks ago

Katelyn

The solicitor communicated well with me and made sure I understood everything. He did everything needed for my settlement agreement and tried to get the wording changed in my favour too.

Posted 4 weeks ago

Anonymous

Redmans provided excellent services

Posted 4 weeks ago

Sibel U

Excellent service

Posted 4 weeks ago

Peter S

I was very happy with the level of advise I received from Caroline Lewis, and a very professional service fron Chris, The advice given really helped me and I was comfortable to sign the settlement agreement following my redundancy. I would be more than happy to recommend your services to others.

Posted 4 weeks ago

Derek S

I very much appreciated the help provided by Redmans in the settlement agreement agreed with my former employer.

Posted 1 month ago

Waseem M

It was the first ime I used Redmans Solicitors and to be honest, thety were amazing. Rana Tandon and Chris Hadrill were out of this world. They made the process as simply and smooth as can be. Thank you so much for all your support over the last week.

Posted 1 month ago

Anonymous

Worked very quickly considering right deadlines - and gave great advice

Posted 1 month ago