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Last Updated: Friday, 3 June, 2005, 13:22 GMT 14:22 UK
Irish fire worker wins race claim
Ann Neylan
Ms Neylan claimed she was victimised for being Irish
An Irish woman who was told her race was "a sin" by a fire service colleague has won 3,000 in compensation.

The Royal Berkshire Fire Authority was ordered to pay the sum to Ann Neylan, 39, after it was found she had been a victim of racial discrimination.

An employment tribunal in Reading heard in March how on Comic Relief day in 2003 a worker wrote a list of fineable sins on a board in the control room.

Among the transgressions was "being Irish", punishable with a 1 fine.

I hope my action in standing up to this treatment has gone some way to ensuring it never happens again in the fire service
Ann Neylan

Paul Bishop, a fellow fire control operator, wrote the list, leaving a donation box marked "all proceeds to Comic Relief", the tribunal heard.

The tribunal panel awarded 3,000 to Ms Neylan for "injury to feelings", to which 501 of interest will be added.

Richard Byrne, the tribunal chairman, said in a written judgment that he was "satisfied this did amount to direct discrimination".

He said: "Whilst some may take the view that the claimant was over sensitive within the context of the day and the spirit of charitable fundraising, she was the only Irish person working in the control room and the comment can only have applied to her and directly arose from her race."

Ms Neylan said she was "very pleased" with the judgment.

Queen's English

She added: "It has taken me over two years to finally receive justice for the racial abuse that I was subjected to by the Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service.

"I can only hope that the brigade will learn from this and ensure that should a similar situation arise, they will deal with it sympathetically and effectively.

"I hope my action in standing up to this treatment has gone some way to ensuring it never happens again in the fire service."

Ms Neylan, originally from Kilcolgan, Co Galway, worked as a leading fire control operator.

She had hoped to win up to 40,000 from her case but the panel dismissed all her other claims of direct discrimination and victimisation.

Support 'stopped short'

At the hearing in March she said that in January 2003, watch commander Liz Mitchell told her to leave if she didn't "start speaking the Queen's English".

A claim relating to this incident was dismissed because it was made "out of time", Mr Byrne ruled.

Ms Neylan also claimed she was victimised on 7 and 8 May 2003 as a result of complaining about the Queen's English remark, including being told she was not "paid to think".

Ms Tuck told the hearing Ms Neylan's "career is now in tatters", she is suffering from depression and has been certified unfit for work for nearly two years.

Iain Cox, the county's chief fire officer, said in a statement: "Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service accepts that an incident of inappropriate behaviour did occur.

"Such behaviour is not usual and certainly not acceptable and steps have been taken to address this issue.

"We will study the ruling carefully to make sure that we have done everything possible to ensure that this type of incident will not occur again."

Irish fire worker's racism claims
15 Mar 05 |  Berkshire
Irish fire worker claims racism
08 Mar 05 |  Berkshire

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