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Wednesday 18 October 2017
Crime and Court

$245,000 for race discrimination

An auditor with the Auditor General’s Department has won a discrimination lawsuit against his employers on the basis that he was bypassed to act in a senior position because of his race.

Desmond Noel complained he was discriminated against by the Auditor General to act in the post of audit director of the department for various periods in 2010 and 2011 because he was of African descent. He said those selected to act in the position were East Indian and junior to him.

Having been found to have discriminated against Noel because of his race, the Auditor General will have to compensate him in the sum of $245,000, plus six per cent interest, in addition to costs of $36,750.

“It is evident on a balance of probabilities that the respondent treated the complainant less favourably on the basis of his race,” ruled Equal Opportunity Tribunal outgoing chairman Rajmanlal Joseph and lay assessors Leela Ramdeen and Harridath Maharaj.

Their judgement was delivered on September 15.

In their ruling, the EOT said Noel suffered “injury to his feelings and the discriminatory acts were serious and continued for a considerable period of time.” Noel was represented at the EOT by attorney Gregory Delzin. Attorney Nadine Nabbie appeared for the Auditor General.

In its defence to Noel’s claims, the department denied discriminating against him on the basis of his race and submitted that he was never victimised but was not recommended to act in the higher position because of his poor performance record.

In his claim, Noel provided several performance appraisals over the years in which he received very good assessments and was deemed fit to be promoted. There were only two appraisals which were unsatisfactory.

In their ruling, the EOT members quoted Chapter 22:03 of the Equal Opportunity Act, which makes it unlawful to discriminate against a person and employee. The tribunal members said in Noel’s case there was “un-contradicted” evidence that his colleagues were given preferential treatment.

They also found that the good performance appraisals “effectively falsified” the two so-called poor performance appraisals. “The tribunal on a balance of probabilities finds that the complainant was indeed treated less favourably...And that the only reasonable and logical reason for the such treatment was because of his race,” the judgement said.

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