NHS scientist awarded £58,000 after being named ‘Paininarse’ on spreadsheet
Ubah Jama, a biochemist for the NHS, won a tribunal claim for racial discrimination after a colleague tagged her a ‘Paininarse’ on a work spreadsheet that could be seen by colleagues from two hospitals.
Jama, who is of Somali origin, told the tribunal she had been subjected to numerous acts of racial discrimination while working in the biochemistry department at Queen’s Hospital, Romford.
Alleged incidents included a colleague throwing a plastic tube containing a fluid sample at the bench she and two black colleagues were sitting on, prompting Jama to make a health and safety complaint.
After finding her name replaced with ‘Paininarse’ in the spreadsheet a colleague admitted she had been responsible but said the tag had been a nickname for the computer.
However, the tribunal ruled that failing to remove the tag created a humiliating environment for Jama considering other colleagues could see the document.
The tribunal found Jama had received less favourable treatment than her white counterparts and that her boss’s behaviour towards her had been materially influenced by race.
Employment judge David Massarella said: “The trust […] created an environment in which Ms Jama was increasingly marginalised and excluded because of her race and then penalised for complaining about that treatment.”
Another claimant from the same department, black South African Princess Mntonintshi, also succeeded in claims of racial discrimination, harassment and victimisation.
Aisling Foley, employment solicitor at law firm SAS Daniels, said employers should put clear anti-harassment and bullying policies in place to avoid similar claims.
She told HR magazine: “Employees need to know what kind of behaviour will not be tolerated. They also need to understand how to raise concerns and how this will then be dealt with by their employer.
“The main thing is to ensure an open line of communication. Promoting conversation and reducing the stigma will allow employees to feel comfortable enough to raise any concerns and should then result in issues being caught more quickly.”
Jama also said she had been told to work while off sick with suspected Covid, unlike her white colleagues.