No5’s Changez Khan successfully acted for Sonia Warner, a civil servant, who brought claims for unconscious race discrimination against the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office.

Ms Warner worked as a civil servant for 33 years and oversaw government grants given to Nigerian organisations. An employment tribunal ruled that her employer racially discriminated by treating her with unwarranted suspicion and investigating her sex life. 

In 2019, Warner suggested that a £2m grant given to a Nigerian charity should be subject to closer monitoring. Days later, she was accused by third parties of having an affair with an employee of the charity and was reported for misconduct which included failure to record a conflict of interest (alleged being in a relationship). 

A six-month investigation followed resulting in a final written warning. 

The Tribunal held that: “The claimant was ‘pushed away’, ‘disowned’ or ‘othered’ during the disciplinary process in a way that we consider would not have happened were she a white civil servant with an equivalent length of service and experience.”

Changez comments: “I am pleased to have represented the employee in this tricky case of unconscious race discrimination. The tribunal’s judgment contains a thoughtful discussion of stereotyping and ‘racial othering’ that can occur when an employee is suspected of misconduct.

A remedy hearing will take place in February next year. 

An article published in The Guardian can be found here.