Care home worker whistleblower wins tribunal after racist boss refused to hire black person

Will Taylor
News Reporter
Caroline Hobbs, 55, was working as a receptionist for Avon Care Homes before quitting. (Caroline Hobbs/SWNS)

A whistleblower walked out of a job in protest after her boss refused to hire a black person for a care home manager’s job, a tribunal has heard.

Caroline Hobbs, 55, worked as a receptionist for Avon Care Homes under regional manager Julia Rea and Cristina Bila, 60, the managing director.

She interviewed candidate Paulett Mills for the role but despite Mills impressing in the interview, Bila told Hobbs she would not get the £52,000 job because she is black, a tribunal was told.

Hobbs handed in her notice and refused to work again in April 2019 and has now won an employment tribunal for her constructive unfair dismissal.

“I’m chuffed because I was not hugely convinced that they wouldn't win and I don't know how I would have dealt with that,” she said.

The managing director of Avon Care Homes, Christina Bila (left), with regional manager Julia Rea. (SWNS)

“It had been months and months of sleepless nights worrying about it, and it's quite stressful – I didn't know the scale of it or how much work it would be.”

Hobbs interviewed Mills with Rea and the latter offered Mills the job, subject to an interview with Bila, but the tribunal heard the pair had worried how Bila would react when she discovered Mills’ ethnicity.

They also tried to work on how to tell Bila that Mills had “beautiful dark skin” but not explicitly mention she was black, but when Bila returned from holiday in April she told them she would not hire a black woman, the tribunal was told.

Hobbs said: “I was appalled, I didn't want to go along with it and I was not going to call the candidate to tell her she was going to get a second interview when I already knew the outcome.

Caroline Hobbs has won a tribunal claim after she walked out in protest when her boss refused to hire a black manager. (Caroline Hobbs/SWNS)

“I told Mrs Bila she was acting illegally and she said she would interview her even though she wouldn't give her the job.”

Judge Christa Christensen, presiding over the tribunal, ruled in Hobbs’s favour and said: “The actions of Mrs Bila on Monday April 8 utterly undermined the claimant’s ability to trust her employer; the claimant could not tolerate continuing to be employed on the basis that she was being instructed in terms to be complicit in recruitment practices that there were unlawful by reference to the provisions in the Equality Act relating to race discrimination."

She added: “The claimant terminated her contract without notice in circumstances such that she was entitled to terminate it without notice by reason of her employer’s conduct.

“There was a fundamental breach of contract.”

Remedy was due to be considered at a later date.

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