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TXU manager wins unfair dismissal claim

PUBLISHED: 05:32 22 January 2003 | UPDATED: 16:12 24 February 2010

A TOP TXU Energi manager sacked from his £98,000-a-year job after sending an “inappropriate” e-mail depicting Arab women as ugly has won his claim for unfair dismissal.

A TOP TXU Energi manager sacked from his £98,000-a-year job after sending an “inappropriate” e-mail depicting Arab women as ugly has won his claim for unfair dismissal.

But Bob Clarke, 42, who was awarded more than £32,000 in compensation for losing his job, was told by tribunal officials “he should have known better” than to forward the message to colleagues.

During the final day of a hearing in Bury St Edmunds yesterday , a tribunal panel of three ruled the troubled energy giant had unfairly dismissed Mr Clarke from his job in Ipswich, and had breached his contract of employment.

“The e-mail purported to be a joke, and it seems from the evidence we have heard that it did not cause offence (to the people who saw it),” said Brian Mitchell, tribunal chairman.

“We consider that the dismissal was unfair, but we do, however, understand that the e-mail which was passed on was wholly inappropriate. It was capable of causing offence to any woman who viewed it, or to any Middle Eastern individual who read it.

“The applicant should have known better. This was a highly offensive document, and it was quite inappropriate to send it. He was in a senior position. To contribute to the type of exchange which involved inappropriate jokes at the expense of races, religions or sexes sends out the wrong signal from the senior people to the junior.”

Mr Clarke, who now lives in Magor, Gwent, had been employed as National Sales Manager with TXU for 13 months and was sacked on March 27 last year after receiving the e-mail from his son - Surrey cricketer Rikki Clarke.

It depicted a blonde, white woman, clad only in a United States flag next to a semi-naked Middle Eastern woman, whose appearance had been digitally altered to make her look ugly and hairy.

The message was entitled “Why The Arabs Hate Us.”

The tribunal panel ruled in favour of Mr Clarke, deciding the company should have considered alternative punishments as well as dismissal. Members also said disciplining Mr Clarke should have been left to someone else, rather than an executive with whom he had an ongoing dispute.

Mr Mitchell added that Mr Clarke's award - in total amounting to £32,596, would have been higher had he not contributed to his own downfall by failing to appreciate the offensive nature of the e-mail.

And bosses at financially-troubled TXU Energi, who were not represented at the hearing, were criticised for failing to take steps to correct a “laddish culture” among the workforce.

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