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Indian female academic gets £450k payout following race discrimination at Portsmouth university | India News – Times of India


LONDON: Portsmouth university must pay at least £450,000 for “subconscious” discrimination against a female Indian academic “who speaks with a marked Indian accent and cadence”, a Southampton employment tribunal said.
The tribunal found that Dr Kajal Sharma was racially discriminated against by her line manager at Portsmouth university, Prof Gary Rees, after he failed to reappoint her to the same role after five years in the job for no apparent reason and recruited a white woman with no experience in that role to replace her.
“His reluctance to recognise the skills and abilities and aspirations of Dr Sharma, and his failure to support and encourage her in the way he supported and encouraged other members of white staff, points towards a subconscious or unconscious bias,” the tribunal found, adding this bias meant “his failure to reappoint her was an act of race discrimination”.
Sharma was on a five-year fixed term contract working as associate head of organisational studies and human resource management which ended on Dec 31, 2020, and she had to reapply for the position.
Rees did not inform her the role was being advertised internally and when she was rejected and asked for feedback, none was provided. The tribunal concluded this was because “he was well aware the process had not been fair and fully transparent.”
Twelve academic senior management vacancies had arisen at the university since 2018 in which the incumbent had to reapply for the post; of those, 11 were reappointed.
The tribunal concluded the process of selection was “tainted by race discrimination” and Rees “treated her differently to named white staff in several specific incidents”.
Her father had died in India on Jan 8, 2016, and when she informed Rees she had to go to India, he asked to complete various tasks before going. Rees then emailed her whilst she was in India dealing with her father’s funeral with further work-related queries.
Rees also discouraged her from applying to become a senior fellow and, after her return from maternity leave, failed to provide her with the support she requested when her baby son was critically ill, the tribunal heard. Yet he had shown empathy and support to other staff. The tribunal found no evidence of her falling short in her role.



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