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Zimbabwean vet awarded £50,000 in race bias case

By Linda McKee

A Zimbabwean-born vet has been paid a settlement of £50,000 by the Department of Agriculture over discrimination cases brought under the Race Relations Order.

The cases were brought with the assistance of the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland.

Dr Crispin Madavo was |employed as an official veterinary surgeon by the Department at an abattoir, where he was responsible for enforcing public health and animal welfare legislation.

The Commission said he had complained to the Industrial Tribunal that internal disciplinary proceedings and sanctions placed upon him were acts of victimisation because he had made previous complaints of racial discrimination and victimisation.

Dr Madavo said that he had felt extremely angry and stressed as a result of the events.

“I believe I was punished simply for refusing to accept treatment which I think amounted to unlawful discrimination. I am happy to see the matter finally resolved with the acceptance by the Department that I had acted reasonably in pursuing my concerns, and in the rescinding of the disciplinary action incorrectly taken against me,” he said.

In 1999, Dr Madavo brought proceedings against DARD alleging racial discrimination and these were settled in 2003. In 2006, he brought another case against the Department alleging that he had been victimised because of those earlier proceedings.

In June last year, an Industrial Tribunal awarded Dr Madavo £8,136, stating: “We found that Dr. Madavo was singled out and victimised by reason of his bringing earlier race discrimination proceedings”.

Prior to the hearing of that case, the Department had launched |internal disciplinary proceedings against Dr Madavo in September 2006, following an allegation of harassment made by a person named in Dr Madavo’s complaints.

After a disciplinary hearing in June 2007, DARD imposed a disciplinary transfer and a disciplinary warning of two years duration on Dr. Madavo, after which he made made further complaints of discrimination.

Anne McKernan, director of legal casework at the Equality Commission, said: “Dr. Madavo has had difficulties over a long |period following initial complaints he made of racial discrimination.

“This culminated in disciplinary proceedings and penalties imposed upon him which the Department has now acknowledged should not have occurred.”

In settling the complaints, without admission of liability, the |Department has agreed to pay Dr Madavo £50,000, apologised unreservedly to him for wrongly subjecting him to disciplinary proceedings and disciplinary sanctions and unequivocally accepted that it was incorrect to conclude that Dr Madavo was guilty of |harassment.

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