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Daimler Chrysler guilty of race bias against Palestinian refugee

By Robert Verkaik,
The Independent
Legal Affairs Correspondent
May 21, 2003

A man of Palestinian descent, whose computer password at work was changed to "suicide bomber", has won an estimated £100,000 from his employer for race discrimination.

Khalid Jayyosi, 28, from north London, was subjected to sustained racial abuse as an IT supervisor at Daimler Chrysler's car plant headquarters in Milton Keynes between 2001 and 2002.

Staff there referred to him as a bomb-maker, suggested he return to the Sangatte asylum-seeker camp in France if he did not like the UK and, just six weeks before he was sacked, told him his computer password had been changed to "suicide bomber." An employment tribunal in Bedford ruled that Daimler Chrysler had racially discriminated against Mr Jayyosi by the procedures it had used to "exit" him from the company.

The tribunal also found the racial abuse was more likely at a company such as Daimler Chrysler which lacked "any clear demonstrable commitment to equality of opportunity". The company had a "one paragraph" policy on discrimination but no guidance on how it should be applied and no staff training, the chairman of the tribunal, Karen Monaghan, said in a 21-page ruling.

Mr Jayyosi, a Bahraini national of Palestinian origin, came to Britain in 1992 as an asylum-seeker. He was granted refugee status in 2002 but started at Daimler Chrysler in August 2001 as a research and development and implementation supervisor.

He made clear to colleagues and managers that he was committed to the Palestinian cause. He wore a Palestinian scarf, "Free Palestine" badges, sent e-mails to colleagues about pro-Palestine marches, and his computer screensaver was a boy throwing a stone at an Israeli tank.

But Mr Jayyosi told the tribunal that after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon he was regarded as a security risk. To help secure asylum in Britain he asked his employer to provide him with a letter of support to the Home Office. His managers never provided such a letter and instead treated his request as suspicious.

Despite Mr Jayyosi's excellent appraisals Daimler Chrysler began a deliberate campaign to remove him from the company. The tribunal found that managers decided first to "exit" Mr Jayyosi, then decided how to do it. The company chose redundancy.

The tribunal said: "We reject the respondent's explanation for the dismissal. Redundancy was the name given to a pre- decided dismissal. The redundancy process, we find, was a sham. It resulted in the loss of one job, the applicant's." The damages, expected to be between £100,000 and £500,000, will be decided next month.

A spokeswoman for Daimler Chrysler said: "The company denies it discriminated unlawfully. We value the unique background, heritage, beliefs, values, needs, experience, skills, personality and lifestyle of every one of our employees."