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Santander UK causes 2.8m Damage to Employee

06th May 2010
By Simon King in Legal
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Allegations of race discrimination appear to have stuck on Santander UK in a high-profile legal battle that has made UK history on a number of accounts.

Santander UK is the UK bank previously known as Abbey National and taken over in 2004 by Emilio Botin's Banco Santander Group. The name Abbey National was changed to Santander UK in January 2010.

In 2004, Santander UK dismissed Balbinder Chagger, of Indian descent, from employment. Its reason for the dismissal was rooted in a compulsory redundancy driven by cost-cutting requirements.

Mr Chagger alleged that the real motive behind his termination was race discrimination and that the compulsory redundancy exercise was merely a sham to target and remove him.

In 2006, an Employment Tribunal ruled that Santander UK had used a compulsory redundancy exercise to target and dismiss Mr Chagger and had been motivated by race.

The Employment Tribunal ordered Santander UK to reinstate Mr Chagger in order to remedy the effects of its racially discriminating conduct. Santander UK refused to comply with the reinstatement order. The Employment Tribunal was dissatisfied with the reasons Santander UK advanced for non-compliance and ruled that Santander UK had failed.

Mr Chagger tried to mitigate the impact of Santander UK's unlawful conduct by applying for a number of other jobs at Santander UK itself. However, Santander UK rejected all his applications. Mr Chagger also offered to work for Santander UK without pay in a number of its departments in order to improve his chances of securing employment elsewhere. However, Santander UK refused all his offers.

In 2007, the Employment Tribunal found that Santander UK's unlawful conduct and failure to reinstate had cost Mr Chagger his career at Santander UK itself, and also his future career in the banking industry. The Employment Tribunal ordered Santander UK to pay the record-breaking £2.8 million compensation to Mr Chagger to cover the loss it had caused him.

In 2008, Santander UK appealed against the race discrimination finding to the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT). The appeal failed; the EAT confirmed the original Employment Tribunal's ruling that Santander UK had racially discriminated against Mr Chagger.

Santander UK did not appeal further to the Court of Appeal against the race discrimination findings made against it by the Employment Tribunal and the EAT. It would appear that Santander UK has conceded that it had racially discriminated against Mr Chagger.

Santander UK now seems to be concerned solely with lowering the £2.8 million amount of loss the Employment Tribunal calculated Santander UK's unlawful conduct and failure to reinstate had caused Mr Chagger.


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