Published: 22 Sep 2022
Scottish Ministers have reached a settlement with a civil servant who brought a race discrimination case to challenge her treatment in the workplace. The case was settled after the Equality and Human Rights Commission funded the eight-day final hearing through its legal support scheme.
The scheme seeks to improve outcomes for victims of racial discrimination by offering financial support to enable access to legal expertise. The fund launched late last year and this is among the first supported cases to have reached its conclusion.
Rose Quarcoo, who was employed by the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, claimed she experienced a series of acts of direct race discrimination, harassment and victimisation.
An employment tribunal in Edinburgh heard that the claimant was allegedly subject to degrading and derogatory treatment by her line manager. This included being set up to fail and assumptions being made about her capability and qualifications based on her race.
Mrs Quarcoo argued that, as a result of this treatment, she developed anxiety and depression, which the employment tribunal found to be a qualifying disability under the Equality Act 2010. Her employer allegedly then failed to make reasonable adjustments to ensure she was not disadvantaged in the workplace.
The Commission’s legal support scheme is open to new applications from people who have suffered discrimination because of their race.
Baroness Kishwer Falkner, Chairwoman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said:
“As Britain’s equality regulator, our landmark legal funding scheme helps tackle race discrimination and ensures victims across the country obtain justice. In this case, our support has helped Mrs Quarcoo reach a settlement with which she is satisfied.
“Every employer should be aware of its legal responsibilities under the Equality Act 2010. In particular, line managers should protect their staff from unfair treatment on the basis of a protected characteristic, including their race or disability.
“Unfortunately, some ethnic minority people still face prejudice and discrimination in the workplace. This is unacceptable. Our legal fund ensures that cost need not be a barrier to taking action.”
David Stephenson, Counsel at Doughty Street Chambers representing Rose Quarcoo, said:
“People who experience discrimination may find it difficult to cover the costs of taking legal action. Race discrimination cases are often vigorously defended, making them more challenging and funding all the more important.
“The support provided by the Equality and Human Rights Commission enabled a positive outcome in Mrs Quarcoo’s case. More successful outcomes can be achieved where resources are made available for race discrimination cases.”
Rose Quarcoo said:
“Nobody should be subjected to discrimination at work, and I am pleased that my case has now been settled.
“I am grateful to the Equality and Human Rights Commission for supporting my case and helping me get justice.”
Notes to editors:
- A substantial settlement was agreed between Mrs Quarcoo and Scottish Ministers.
- Mrs Quarcoo was employed by the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service from September 2017 to September 2019. In her role as an Assistant Finance Business Partner she was responsible for the High and Local Court functions.
- Mrs Quarcoo asserts that she made a number of complaints of race discrimination in July 2018 and October 2018, and that the failure to address these led to her absence from work and ultimately her resignation in September 2019.
- Information on the preliminary hearing of the employment tribunal and its judgment in relation to the claimant’s disability under section 6 of the Equality Act 2010.
- Information on what constitutes discrimination, harassment and victimisation under the Equality Act 2010.
- The Equality and Human Rights Commission’s legal support fund supports victims of race discrimination to cover the costs of taking legal action. Launched in November 2021, it will be open for a minimum of two years and will see up to £250,000 of funding allocated.
- Individuals with a race discrimination case can access funding via the Equality Advisory and Support Service (EASS). Alternatively, legal practitioners can apply for support towards their clients’ cases.