Worker was sacked for not being Chinese

AN IPSWICH woman's claim that she was sacked from a takeaway restaurant because she was not Chinese has been upheld for the second time in four months.

AN IPSWICH woman's claim that she was sacked from a takeaway restaurant because she was not Chinese has been upheld for the second time in four months.

Mother-of-two Darlene Hickman was yesterday awarded compensation of £1,964 by an employment tribunal sitting at Bury St Edmunds.

Miss Hickman, 36, of Warwick Road, had originally had her claim for racial discrimination upheld by a tribunal in November when she was awarded £2,398.

That finding was later revoked and a fresh hearing ordered when Peking Express takeaway owner Jockwar Wong complained that he had been unaware of the proceedings taking place.

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He told the tribunal panel yesterday that he had been "appalled" to learn from press reports that his business had been found guilty of racial discrimination.

Miss Hickman told how she lost her job at the Peking Express in Foxhall Road, Ipswich, in June last year when Mrs Wong told her that she was being replaced by a Chinese delivery driver.

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She said: "I didn't believe what I was hearing. I thought they were just bluffing".

But when she finished her evening shift at the takeaway on June 22 last year, she was told that she was no longer required and not to return.

Miss Hickman said she believed that her dismissal had also been linked to allegations, which she strongly denied, of having informed on a fellow delivery worker to the DSS.

Giving evidence through a Cantonese interepreter, Mr Wong said that complaints about Miss Hickman's behaviour had been the reason for her sacking.

In a statement to the tribunal panel, Mr Wong said customers had complained about food being delivered by Miss Hickman's 12-year-old daughter.

He said: "They objected to the Peking Express having a child put in danger to deliver their food and were not happy about this matter at all.

"There were also complaints about delivery for which Hickman was responsible being carried out by a strange man who was often drunk."

Mr Wong said that neither he or his wife had ever authorised Miss Hickman to allow any other person to make food deliveries on her behalf.

He said: "We decided to sack Darlene. My wife did not want any trouble so told Darlene that we were using Chinese drivers".

He strongly denied that there had been any racial element in her dismissal and added that his business still employed English staff with no problems.

Miss Hickman denied having ever having placed her daughter in danger by making food deliveries.

Tribunal chairman David Skinner said it had been a "disturbing and distressing" case. He said the panel had made every allowance for possible language difficulties, but had been unable to reach any other conclusion than to support Miss Hickman's claim.

Mr Skinner said that Mr Wong's evidence had contained "contradictions and inconsistencies". A letter sent to the tribunal office by Mr Wong had also confirmed that the replacement of Miss Hickman by a Chinese person had been the reason stated to her at the time of dismissal.

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