Croydon College accused of racial discrimination by lecturer Toby Otober
Croydon College is being accused of racial discrimination by a lecturer who claims he was overlooked for a job because he is black.
Toby Otober has taken the college to an employment tribunal also claiming he has lost out on pay for two years because the college has not given him a reference.
He believes he was not considered for a permanent position after being employed as temporary agency staff because of the colour of his skin.
The 58-year-old worked on business related courses while employed at the college through an agency from January to July 2011.
Mr Otober had hoped to be given a permanent job in September 2011 and then applied for a job in the department through employment agency Morgan Hunt in February 2012.
The tribunal heard this job was filled internally by a white candidate who had been at risk of redundancy.
But Mr Otober is claiming he was given no chance at getting the job because he is black.
Giving evidence at the hearing yesterday the head of the business, science and IT department, Julie Percival, disputed Mr Otober’s claims they had met and talked about permanent jobs while he was working at the college.
She said the only time she could remember meeting him was a short introduction in a corridor.
She said: "[When I started in the department] Mr Otober was introduced to me in the corridor and we had a very brief conversation.
"At the time I was new to the department and lots of people wanted to come up to me and introduce themselves.
"I did not have a meeting with him, certainly not to talk about positions starting in September."
Mr Otober’s barrister Linda Hudson said: "The claimant says the meeting lasted for 15 to 20 minutes and you asked him several questions about his work and his family.
"You took down his email address and mobile phone number."
But Ms Percival replied: "None of that is true."
He is also trying to get a reference from the college.
Ms Percival told the hearing at the London South Employment Tribunal it was not the college’s policy to give references for agency staff.
She said the line manager who would have been able to give him a personal reference was off sick and Ms Percival said it would be inappropriate to contact her about the issue.
Ms Hudson asked her: "You did not make any effort at all to try to put them in contact because you did not like the claimant, you did not like him because he was black."
To which the department head replied: "I did not know the claimant.
"Well then I do not like more than half of my team that I currently work with then do I?"
The employment tribunal panel is expected to make a judgement in the case by mid-June.
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