Racial stereotype comments lead to Southampton lecturer being sacked

A tribunal heard that an engineering university lecturer was sacked after he racially stereotyped some black students.

Stephen Lamonby, aged 73, was dismissed by Solent University after he made remarks about black students. One of his comments were that black students ‘did not have it in their DNA to do engineering.’

Mr Lamonby denied the comments about DNA when questioned by the tribunal and stated that other stereotypes he had made were ‘positive.’

Bristol Civil and Family Justice Centre was told that the comments were made to another course leader Dr Janet Bonar in a meeting which took place in the campus canteen on 28th March 2019.

After Mr Lamonby had said that he ‘felt sorry for black students because they did not have the heritage in their DNA to do engineering’ Dr Bonar felt she had no choice but to complain to the university.

At the tribunal Mr Lamonby argued that other stereotypes he had made were ‘positive.’ These comments included him saying that he had a soft spot for young black males. They were underprivileged and many did not have fathers. They needed all the help they could get.

The tribunal was also told that Mr Lamonby had made comments about Jews being the ‘cleverest people in the world’ and that Germans were ‘good at engineering.’

Mr Lamonby was sacked for gross misconduct by the university disciplinary hearing committee.

On defending himself Mr Lamonby stated that his comments could not be considered as racist because he used ‘positive stereotypes’ of groups. He declared that he was a victim of ‘woke’ culture.

Mr Lamonby commented that these days people are not allowed to make comments in universities now as they are ‘totally obsessed with racism.’

Mr Lamonby, a part-time lecturer at the university claimed that because they were exposed to a high level of industry from an early age, Germans were good at engineering. He stated that Jewish people also had ‘a particular gift’ for some subjects.

When questioned by the university Mr Lamonby defended his comments by saying that he had come to believe that certain nationalities had higher levels of skills in some areas.

The tribunal heard that Mr Lamonby admitted he had used ‘clumsy language’ in his comments.

The tribunal ruled that Solent University had a duty towards its students to protect them from any potential acts of racism.

Judge O’Rourke stated that it is potentially racist to group ethnic and religious groups, nationalities, and races by entire categories.

It is also wrong to ascribe certain talents and abilities (or lack of them) to groups because in any group talents and abilities will vary from individual to individual.

The judge further added that Mr Lamonby’s comments about young black males needing extra help were discriminatory and he considered his comments about Jews to be ‘potentially offensive.’

Judge O’Rourke ruled that the dismissal was fair. He also ruled that on balance of probability the claimant had indeed committed misconduct and his dismissal was justified. He threw out Mr Lamonby’s claim for unfair dismissal.

A spokesperson for Solent University stated that they were happy with the outcome of the tribunal. It reflected the university’s commitment to promoting equality and diversity.

Mr Lamonby could not be reached for comment.


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