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Payout for lab assistant likened to ‘radicalised’ murderer

After being dismissed, a lab assistant discovered a recording of his former boss saying he had been radicalised. The lab assistant has won his claim for discrimination.

Mr Waqas Rai, a Muslim, claimed he was dismissed from his Coventry based diagnostic company Micropathology, and suffered race and religious discrimination before losing his job in December 2021.

Some months after his dismissal, Mr Rai’s former manager openly discussed him at a university lecture he gave, saying that he thought Mr Rai had been radicalised. The lecture was recorded and posted online, where it was viewed by Mr Rai along with several other students who were on his biomedical science undergraduate course.

Additionally, later correspondence with the University of Warwick showed that the manager had claimed to explicitly compare Mr Rai to ‘the man who killed the MP in Southend.’

MP David Amess was killed in October 2021 at a constituency surgery in Leigh on Sea. The killer, Ali Hari Ali was convicted of murder and the preparation of terrorist acts.

The employment tribunal heard that his manager allegedly said that Mr Rai was ‘very intelligent but his totally passive behaviour was an indication he had been radicalised.’

The equality watchdog Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) provided the funding for Mr Rai's case to be taken to tribunal.

Baroness Kishwer Falkner, chairwoman of the EHRC said that both the manner of his dismissal, along with the comments made about him in an attempt to justify them, were totally unacceptable.

‘Every person has the right to work without the worry of being treated any differently because of race or religion.’

What made this case worse was the fact that the comments were shared publicly. It made no difference where they were made, namely in a lecture hall, office or even an email, this sort of discrimination should never be tolerated.

When he heard the recording for the first time Mr Rai said he felt angry and confused. It affected his mental health and made him feel anxious about returning to work. Even now he feels that when he starts a new job he is paranoid about what people might think about him.

Mr Rai thanked his lawyer and the EHRC for helping him through the difficult time. He hoped that his experience would help others who were treated the same way.

Mr Rai's former manager published a statement in January, making no admission of liability but suggesting that the company will carry out suitable training and review their policies.

He accepted that the circumstances surrounding the recording and the transmission were regretful. Referring to Mr Rai by name was entirely avoidable and he regretted any offence that he had caused Mr Rai.

He went on to say that there were lessons to be learned from his experience and Micropathology is committed to reviewing policies and procedures, along with arranging training for equal opportunity issues.

Mr Rai started a claim for race and religious discrimination against Micropathology but both parties have now reached an out of court settlement before the final hearing.

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