Home Office contractor faces allegations of racism
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HOME OFFICE contractor Mitie’s escorts, who deport people from the UK, are accused of often using the racist term “cotton pickers” to describe their black colleagues. A London employment tribunal has raised “concern” over the matter but rejected the racism claim.
It came to light when a Mitie escort of Pakistani heritage, Muqaddas Zaib, claimed he was discriminated against on the basis of his race and his disability because of which he was not given as many of the complex high-paying jobs as other colleagues.
Although the tribunal’s judgment found no evidence of race or disability discrimination in the way Zaib was treated by Mitie and rejected the claim, the judgment did raise concern over the use of the term “cotton pickers”.
“Whilst the tribunal stops short of concluding that there was a racist culture (within Mitie) it was deeply concerned firstly that such offensive comments were made by employees but also that they appear not to be isolated incidents,” The Guardian said, quoting from the judge’s statement.
One witness in the case, a black manager, told the court that another member of staff said to her that she is nothing “but a cotton picker.” Another witness claimed that officers often use the term “cotton pickers” casually and black staff is referred to as the ‘cotton pickers club,’. The term is racist and has derogatory reference to black slaves subjected to forced labour in the southern US.
Mitie denied allegations of racism, saying any claims of discrimination or bullying are fully investigated.
“We have a zero-tolerance approach to any form of discrimination and take all complaints and concerns raised by our employees very seriously,” a Mitie spokesperson said, adding that “our colleagues are regularly reminded of our independent and anonymous whistleblowing hotline should they need to raise any concerns”.