Employment tribunal awards £18,575 after supervisors victimised worker and called him 'a spy for Bin Laden'.
An Asian man working on the Skanska section of Channel Tunnel Rail Link has been awarded £18,575 by an employment tribunal after being accused of being "a spy for Osama bin Laden" by supervisors on the site.

The employment tribunal, held at Ashford in Kent, found that Najjif Hussain Shah had suffered unlawful discrimination on the grounds of race at the hands of two workers employed by subcontractor WPB.

Shah had worked on the site for about seven months without incident. Then, in early November 2001, Paul Greenside, a WPB supervisor, approached some Indian workers and asked if Shah was "one of their lot". Greenside discovered that Shah was of Pakistani descent, although he had been born and raised in Preston, Lancashire.

He then began to abuse Shah on a daily basis. The tribunal heard that Greenside questioned Shah's views on the Afghan war, stated that all Muslims were b******* and told him to "f*** off back to your own country". Shah responded: "I am British and I am from here."

Shah told the tribunal that the abuse became so bad that on Friday, 9 November, he walked off the site at 10.30am.

A second supervisor, Steffan Howlett, later joined in the abuse. The tribunal report said: "Howlett participated in the abuse of the applicant, and Greenside and Howlett accused the applicant of being a spy for Osama bin Laden."

Shah eventually reported their intimidation to John Davis, Skanska's safety manager on the site, who made a report on the abuse. The tribunal said Shah was informed that Skanska would take the allegations "very seriously" and that the matter would be dealt with immediately.

Alan Hall, Skanska's section manager, and Mark Joseph, its site foreman, called a meeting with Greenside and Howlett to explain the nature of allegations to them.

By Tuesday, Shah was concerned that he was in physical danger. Later that day, he collected his last wages and left

The tribunal reported that Howlett and Greenside disputed the allegations and claimed that it was Shah who had started the row by claiming that Osama bin Laden was a martyr.

Greenside and Howlett were told that any racial harassment must stop and that they were not to take any reprisals against Shah. One hour after the meeting, Greenside walked past Shah and said: "Don't you f****** look at me." Howlett later added that he was "not to talk to anyone about anything at any time".

Later that afternoon, Shah refused to do some heavy lifting because he was worried about injuring his back. The tribunal reported that "Greenside said to him 'right then, grass, I'll give you some more to do' and he was given a toilet-cleaning job". Shah had never been asked to do this before, and did not consider it part of his duties.

By Tuesday, Shah was concerned that he was in physical danger. He called Davis and said the racial abuse had got worse, and that he was taking advice from his union. Later that day, he collected his last wages from WBP and explained to staff what had happened. The staff "showed no interest" in his comments.

The tribunal ordered WPB Contractors to pay Shah £10,000 in damages, £8000 for injury to feelings and £575 in interest. It found that Skanska had no liability in this case as Shah was not its direct employee.

WBP was not present at the tribunal, nor did it offer evidence. Skanska declined to comment.