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Chef sues House of Commons making claims of racism and bullying

13 July 2020 by

A Caribbean chef is suing the House of Commons for £300,000, claiming unfair dismissal, race discrimination, and harassment.

Kevin Connor, 53, has made a claim against the House of Commons Commission, which runs cafeteria venues within the Parliamentary estate, at the Central London employment tribunal. He is claiming unfair dismissal, race discrimination, harassment and victimisation, seeking £300,000 for lost earnings, pension and injured feelings.

Among claims made to as part of proceedings he said colleagues presented him with a racist cartoon depicting him in a cooking pan. The cartoonist listed 'Kevin' on the menu of the day alongside jerk chicken. Connor said he felt humiliated by the image, which showed a colleague about to hit him with a cooking utensil.

He has also alleged that other chefs told him he should become a beach seller of jerk chicken and said that he worked ‘like a slave'.

Connor, who hails from the island of Anguilla, said he lost his £23,000-a-year job in February after 18 years of service because of bullying.

In legal papers lodged at the tribunal, Connor said he worked in the Commons kitchens from 2002 until 2014 "without any incident". But he claims his job became a "living hell" over the past few years.

Among other allegations Connor said he was branded a ‘snake' by a fellow worker and told he had a "monkey" on his back.

He said: "I suspect he referred to jungle creatures when referring to me due to my race."

Legal papers also allege that colleagues made false complaints against Connor claiming he had been the one intimidating colleagues, which led to him being disciplined.

He added: "I was too afraid to raise the issue of the racism against me in the workplace although I did try to draw attention to the most overt and obvious case of the racist picture.

"I also thought naively that if I told the truth about the events that they would obviously conclude that I had done nothing wrong."

Instead, he claims that he was wrongly fired for misconduct in February.

A House of Commons spokesperson said: "The House of Commons strives to be an inclusive and supportive workplace, and is committed to ensuring that all staff are supported in their roles. We are unable to comment on individual staffing matters."

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