In the case of Sarsembayev v KKMR Group Limited & anor (3200012/2016) the Employment Tribunal held that Mr Sarsembayev had been constructively dismissed and discriminated against, and that his wages had been unlawfully deducted. The Tribunal awarded Mr Sarmsembayev almost £60,000 as compensation for lost earnings, injury to feelings, and deductions from his wages.

Mr Sarsembayev, who is of Kazakhstani national origin, commenced employment for KKMR Group Limited (“KKMR”) as a Public Relations Officer on 8 September 2014. His line manager, and the owner of KKMR, was Timur Kim. Shortly after commencing employment with KKMR Mr Sarsembayev invested £4,500 in the company, with the understanding that he would receive shares in the company in return.

During the course of his employment Mr Sarsembayev alleged that he had been subjected to the following conduct:

  • That in December 2014 Mr Kim made the following comment to him in the workplace: “You don’t get to teach me anything. You have to experience. You are from Kazakhstan. If you don’t like something, there’s the door!”
  • That in December 2014 Mr Kim described a young black intern in the workplace, in front of Mr Sarsembayev, as “stinks like all black people”
  • That from February 2015 to June 2015 Mr Kim described South Korean and Chinese interns at the workplace, in front of Mr Sarsembayev, as “stupid narrow-eyed Asians” and “I fucking hate Chinese”
  • That in or around April 2015 Mr Kim described a student from India, at the workplace, in front of Mr Sarsembayev, as “corner shop girl”
  • That in June 2015 Mr Kim told Mr Sarsembayev to “just fuck off then”
  • That on July 2015 Mr Kim told Mr Sarsembayev “are you fucking mad?”
  • That he had been regularly demeaned by Mr Kim during the course of his employment and that his work had been credited to other colleagues, and that he believed that this treatment was because he was not

Mr Sarsembayev also alleged that he had not at any point during the course of his employment with KKMR been paid any salary, and that he was not given any payslips. He believed that a collague, Mr Karapetyan, a colleague who was also Kazakh but of Russian heritage, was paid his salary, as Mr Karapetyan never complained that he had not been paid (whereas Mr Sarsembayev did complain that he had not been paid). Mr Sarsembayev also alleged that he had been racially abused by Mr Kim when he complained about not being paid.

As a result of Mr Kim’s conduct towards him Mr Sarsembayev resigned from his employment by way of email on 3 August 2015, stating that his resignation was at least in part because of “belittling opinions, public and professional humiliation”. He subsequently made claims against KKMR and Mr Kim for automatic unfair dismissal, direct race discrimination, race-related harassment, and unlawful deduction from wages. The case against Mr Kim settled shortly before the Employment Tribunal hearing but the claim proceeded against KKMR.

The Employment Tribunal found in Mr Sarsembayev’s favour in his claims for automatic unfair dismissal, direct race discrimination, race-related harassment, and unlawful deduction from wages, holding that KKMR had automatically dismissed Mr Sarsembayev (as he had resigned from his employment wholly or principally because of abuse he was given because he had complained about not being paid), that Mr Kim had directly discriminated against Mr Sarsembayev, that Mr Kim had racially harassed Mr Sarsembayev, and that Mr Sarsembayev’s wages had been unlawfully deducted (as he had not been paid since the commencement of his employment).

The Tribunal awarded Mr Sarsembayev a total of £63,564.56, comprised of the following sums:

  • £17,926 as compensation for injury to feelings
  • £27,080.01 as compensation for loss of earnings
  • £18,528.55 in respect of the unlawful deductions from earnings

Chris Hadrill, a specialist employment solicitor at Redmans, commented on the case: “Mr Sarsembayev has been awarded a substantial amount as compensation for his unfair dismissal and the discrimination that he suffered, and the Employment Tribunal was highly critical of the conduct of his employer. However, it is may be difficult for Mr Sarsembayev to enforce the totality of the award against his previous employer as the business is currently in liquidation, and Mr Sarsembayev will therefore only rank as a creditor (presumably one of many).”

The Employment Tribunal judgment in the case of Sarsembayev v KKMR Group Limited & anor can be found here.

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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

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