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A return fixture: McCammon v Gillingham FC and another

Back in June, I blogged about Brighton FC’s dismissal of Guy Poyet.  Gillingham FC – current occupants of the League 1 relegation zone – have also been in the Employment Tribunal recently, defending a race discrimination claim brought by striker Mark McCammon.

Mr McCammon, a Barbados international with 5 caps, joined Gillingham FC in 2008. From mid-2010, however, his relationship with the club began to sour. The club was unhappy about him having ankle surgery without its consent, and arriving at training at 1pm on a snowy day. Gillingham FC’s manager Andy Hessenthaler then claimed that Mr McCammon had barged into his office and accused him of racism.

After holding a disciplinary meeting, Gillingham FC dismissed Mr McCammon for acting in an aggressive manner and making “very serious allegations of racism” against the manager. Mr McCammon raised an Employment Tribunal claim.

The Tribunal held that Mr McCammon’s dismissal was an unlawful act of race victimisation: he had been dismissed for making allegations against the manager, and these allegations were a ‘protected act’. An employer victimises an employee if it subjects him to a detriment because he has done a protected act (such as bringing a discrimination claim, alleging the employer is guilty of discrimination, or giving evidence or information in connection with a discrimination complaint), or because the employer believes the employee has done or may do a protected act.

Whilst giving false evidence or information, or making a false allegation, is not ‘protected’ if done in bad faith, Gillingham FC could not rely on this argument, as they had carried out no investigation into the truth of the allegations. This case highlights that before taking disciplinary action following allegations of discrimination, an employer should be confident both that the allegations are false, and that the employee made them in bad faith.

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