Employment Law Specialists Claim Judge Was Treated Less Favourably Because Of His Race
National law firm Irwin Mitchell is this week advising Judge Nawal Kumrai in the London Central Employment Tribunal in his claim against The Ministry of Justice for “unconscious bias, harassment, victimisation, micro-aggression and discrimination” regarding how he was treated following an alleged complaint against him, after an incident in April 2015.
In Nawal Kumrai v (1) John Aitken, (2) Hugh Howard and (3) The Ministry of Justice, Irwin Mitchell Employment Lawyer Emilie Cole will argue that Judge Kumrai, who is a First Tier Tribunal Judge and District Judge, was treated unfairly by his supervising judges, with the result that he became stressed and ill and that he has now been put “at a real if not insurmountable, disadvantage in terms of seeking to progress his judicial career.” It is claimed that such treatment was due to the fact that he is non-white and of BAME origin.
The action follows an incident on 24th April 2015 when Judge Kumrai was sitting in his capacity as a fee-paying judge of the Social Entitlement Chamber (First-tier Tribunal) at Watford and followed a complaint from the appellant in the case about being questioned on a “sensitive” issue. Judge Kumrai has maintained that it was necessary for him to explore the detail of this issue so that the appellant could satisfy the legal conditions for the Employment Support Allowance (ESA) and allow the appellant her appeal, which he explained to the appellant at the time. The appellant’s complaint was finally dismissed by Judge Peter Lane on 15 July 2016 “under regulation 34” with a finding of no misconduct on Judge Kumrai’s part.
However, in the period between the incident and dismissal of the complaint, Judge Kumrai maintains he was treated by both Judge Hugh Howard and Judge John Aitken, his supervising judges, in a way that did not abide by the Dignity at Work Statement and the Equality and Diversity Policy for the Judiciary issued by the Lord Chief Justice and the Senior President of the Tribunals.
He claims that they made assumptions before properly checking the facts or asking for his account. The complaint was turned into an “Investigation into Judge Kumrai”. His personal file was accessed and improperly used to support the alleged complaint. He was not provided with all the documentation used in the investigation, some of which he never saw. He was written to in an aggressive manner and was not given a proper opportunity to put his side of the story.
This behaviour continued both before and after his exoneration and Judge Kumrai has received no apology for how he was treated. “They have unreasonably refused to accept any wrongdoing or that anything they have done has not been right, despite the views expressed by the JCIO, (Judicial Conduct Investigations Office), Lord Chancellor and the Senior President of the Tribunals.”
The whole issue adversely affected his health. He was hospitalised in the summer of 2016.
Judge Kumrai believes following this “investigation” he has now been branded a “problem judge”.
Expert Opinion“Discrimination in whatever form it takes is unacceptable. My client was put through months of distress without proper consideration for his feelings or taking his side of this incident into account, leading to great stress and illness. We look forward to the Tribunal’s determination of this important case for BAME judges.” Emilie Cole - Partner
The case is being heard in court this week.
This is the second high-profile “Judge” case for Irwin Mitchell’s Emilie Cole this year. She recently advised Judge Claire Gilham in the Supreme Court in October in the high profile “Judge Gilham Whistleblowing case” whereby Judge Gilham was allowed the right to blow the whistle on conditions in the county courts, in line with her Human Rights.
Irwin Mitchell is a national law firm. Its reputation as a leading firm for litigation work was boosted after being named as the third most active firm in the UK courts by The Lawyer magazine. According to The Lawyer’s latest Litigation Tracker in 2018, the firm was involved with 42 cases.