As you know Wembley Matters has carried a number of articles calling for Brent Council to provide details on whether the Council made a payment to Cara Davani, former Head of Human Resources on her resignation, and if so, the amount that was paid. This statement has been made by Cllr Muhammed Butt, leader of Brent Council.
Statement regarding employment tribunal of Rosemarie Clarke
"Much has been written and said about the Employment Tribunal of Rosemarie Clarke and Brent Council; a good deal of it has been inaccurate and unfair.
"The Council’s normal policy is not to comment on the detail of individual cases and for a considerable time we have held to this line. However, the time has come where the Council needs to set out the facts in the light of continued misrepresentation of the judgement. We do this not because of any desire to defend our reputation, but because of the corrosive affect of untruths on the morale of our workforce and our ability to move forward as an organisation.
"The tribunal found that Ms Clarke suffered ‘discrimination on the grounds of race, victimisation, and was constructively dismissed’. The case relates to events between March 2012 and August 2013. Most of the managers and officers who had any significant involvement with the case have left the council.
"The tribunal findings are complex and centre on grievances raised by Ms Clarke, Head of Learning and Development, against her manager, Ms Davani, Head of HR. Before these were heard, she was suspended by Mr Newby, Director of Strategy, Partnerships and Improvement, for another matter which, if upheld, in our view could have constituted gross misconduct. Ms Clarke resigned and left before the disciplinary and grievance matters had been fully determined.
"The council continued with both the disciplinary and grievance processes after she left. Ms Ledden, the Borough Solicitor, considered the gross misconduct case and concluded that she would have been dismissed. She also concluded that the grievance was without merit. The tribunal disagreed.
"The tribunal drew a direct comparison to another case of a white member of staff who was suspended on the grounds of gross misconduct and resigned, where the council did not continue to hear the case after he left. Fundamentally, it was this difference in the way the council acted that led to the finding of race discrimination. Different managers made the decisions in these cases, but the findings were against the council as the employer.
"Much has been made of the role of Cara Davani, in relation to the case. The fact is that the tribunal found fault in the decisions made by a number of managers and officers that collectively led to the finding against the council. We are sorry that mistakes were made, but we do not accept that all the staff concerned were therefore racist; indeed two of them were black managers. It was not what they did that led to the finding, but the difference between what they did and what other managers in the council did in similar circumstances. The Council will not condone a witch-hunt against staff, even those who make mistakes.
"The discrimination findings relied on what is known as the reverse burden of proof. If an organisation acts differently in two cases where the two employees happen to be of different race and cannot satisfactorily explain why, then it is deemed to have discriminated. The finding was against the Council as a whole.
"We are not legally allowed to discuss the terms of Cara Davani's departure. All staff are treated no more or less favourably than they are entitled to be treated in accordance with our contracts and in line with our employment procedures.
"In the three years since the start of matters in this case, Brent Council has made great strides in relation to its HR and Equalities practices. Most recently, we were judged to have reached the ‘Achieving’ level of the Equality Standard for Local Government.
"There are few councils in the country that are as proudly diverse as Brent, nor as committed to embedding equalities in our services and employment practices. We have used the failings in this case to learn, by commissioning a review of practices and through implementing an improvement plan.
"We stand on our record, as a service provider and employer, and hope that our staff and the public will judge us on this."
NOTE: The Watford Employment Tribunal Judgment can be found HERE