Second payout in race case
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1 June 2000 The Daily Telegraph (UK)
Victimised jail officer wins new race payout
By Danielle Demetriou
A black prison officer who said he returned to work after winning damages
for race discrimination only to suffer further victimisation has received a
second compensation award from the Prison Service. The £80,000 interim
payment to Claude Johnson, 43, brings the total he has received for racial
discrimination and victimisation at Brixton Prison to nearly £110,000.
Mr Johnson, of Brixton, south London, first received an award from the
Prison Service in 1995. He was paid £28,500 after an 18-month campaign of
harassment and discrimination by white staff at the prison, where he had
worked since 1989.
When the service unsuccessfully appealed against the award, the case was
described by members of the Employment Appeal Tribunal as the worst any of
them had encountered. The amount included a £20,000 award for injury to
feelings, the highest recorded in tribunals at the time.
However, when he returned to work in 1996 after the hearing, Mr Johnson
continued to suffer victimisation from colleagues because of the outcome of
the first tribunal case. He lodged a further claim against the service for
failing to uphold the previous tribunal's judgment. Mr Johnson, who had a
nervous breakdown and has been unable to work for more than three years,
again won. The discrimination started when Mr Johnson objected to an attack
by white staff on a mixed-race prisoner, according to the first tribunal
hearing. Colleagues refused to speak to him.
Despite making a formal complaint to the prison governor about his
treatment, for six months he received less overtime than his colleagues.
The final tribunal award to Mr Johnson will be settled next January,
pending further assessments.
Chris Myant, a spokesman for the Commission for Racial Equality, which
provided legal representation for the former prison officer, said: "Mr
Johnson was victimised as a result of having taken out a race
discrimination case against the Prison Service."
The service has launched an internal inquiry by its race relations advisers.
(c) Telegraph Group Limited, London 2000
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