Worker wins race discrimination case after club met ‘fair-skinned dealer’ request

A unanimous judgment from the London Central Employment Tribunal said that Crown London Aspinalls had directly discriminated against claimant Semhar Tesfagiorgis because of her race and had treated her less favourably than other employees when it had complied with patrons’ requests for “fair-skinned female dealers” or “western-looking female staff”.

Tesfagiorgis claimed that in December 2019 she and a black colleague were prevented from working as dealers at a patron’s table because he had requested a white employee. The company responded by providing the table with a white male dealer instead.

The casino told the tribunal that it felt it was necessary to accommodate the partron’s request, no matter how unreasonable, as it was in the company’s best interest.

In her witness statement, Tesfagiorgis said the company’s managing director questioned her on whether he should “turn away a million-pound customer” when she raised a complaint.

Tesfagiorgis also alleged that the company had prevented her from swapping a shift with a colleague in 2015 because a patron did not want a black dealer. This claim was brought out of time, but the tribunal agreed this had also been unfavourable treatment and direct race discrimination.

The tribunal’s written judgment said: “Our finding is that the claimant and her black female colleagues were held back from going on duty because they were not ‘fair-skinned, female dealers’ or ‘western looking female staff’

“The accommodation of the request was direct race discrimination of the claimant because but for her race she would have been asked to deal to the patron. The granting of that request was less favourable treatment by the managers because of race.”

In a statement issued after the ruling, Tesfagiorgis said: “I tried for many years to open a dialogue about the racism myself and many others were often faced with but I was either shut down, ignored or gaslighted each time.

“The direct discrimination myself and other black colleagues received was not an isolated incident. Although the tribunal could not rule on past events due to time limits, they have acknowledged this was the case and for once Crown Aspinalls will finally be forced to do the same, for this I am grateful to the employment tribunal.”

Crown London Aspinalls could not be reached for comment at the time of publication.

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