One of Northern Ireland’s richest men has been accused of showing favouritism to Indian staff members at a Belfast hotel.
Andras House Limited, a hotel group owned by multi-millionaire Lord Diljit Rana, has also been accused of bullying, harassment and victimisation by former Ramada Hotel general manager Scott Bauman.
An award-winning manager, Mr Bauman also claims Lord Rana gave “preferential treatment” to Indian employees at the four-star Belfast hotel.
The claims against the hotel tycoon were made at a fair employment tribunal in Belfast yesterday.
Mr Bauman worked for Lord Rana for two years until 2010 when he resigned.
He raised concerns about working practices within the Andras group, which owns several hotels across Belfast.
A native of India, Lord Rana is a key figure in the local business community and has built a massive hotel and property portfolio since moving to Northern Ireland in 1966.
During opening submissions at yesterday’s tribunal hearing, Scott Bauman, who was listed as one of Belfast’s top businessmen in 2009, alleges he clashed with senior management after complaining about work practices at the plush Ramada complex.
He told the tribunal: “I believe I was victimised about how I raised issues that Indian staff were being given preferential treatment over non-Indian staff.”
A US citizen, Mr Bauman says when he complained to a member of senior management he was told “there’s nothing you can do about it, it’s Lord Rana’s hotel”, the tribunal heard.
Mr Bauman said his role at the Ramada Hotel was undermined
by Lord Rana. He added: “Lord Rana was undermining my position by giving Indian staff perks that non-Indian staff were not getting.”
Mr Bauman added that this practice resulted in him “receiving complaints from other members of staff”.
The former hotel manager went on to claim that people of Indian origin were given bonus payments.
He also alleged that some Indian staff members were handed jobs without having to go through an interview process.
Several allegations were made against the former hotel manager, including claims he allowed his partner’s son to stay at the hotel free of charge — and of allowing his partner to use hotel treatment facilities free of charge.
Mr Bauman was suspended on full pay in May last year pending an investigation into the allegations against him.
Born in the Punjab region of India, Diljit Singh Rana moved to England in 1963.
By the start of 1971 he had three restaurants in the city. He now has one of Northern Ireland's biggest hotel chains, employing over 350 people.
He currently owns the Ramada Hotel, Holiday Inn Express, Days Hotel, Ibis Belfast and the Cordia Apartments.
He was made a life peer, Baron Rana of Malone in the County of Antrim, in 2004.