An NHS trust has paid a former IT manager £1 million in damages more than three years after a white van driver racially abused him outside a hospital.
Richard Hastings, 50, dedicated nearly 19 years of his working life to Kings College Hospital in south London, but when the driver painted him as the aggressor, he was soon fired for gross misconduct.
As he sits down in his kitchen, he explains how his career, family and mental health were ripped apart by a process of racial discrimination in one of Londons biggest BME employers.
He told Metro.co.uk: Its put me under so much pressure. Ive suffered physically and mentally, I really have.
Ive been taking sleeping tablets because I dont sleep. Ive been taking antidepressants. I see a psychiatrist. Ive been having counselling and undergoing therapy.
This is the psychological and physical strain that this whole discrimination process has put on me.
Richard was trying to park his car at the hospital in July 2015 when he got into a dispute with a white van driver, who he says was speeding.
The driver, who was with two other men, allegedly swore at him, calling him a c*** and f***ing stupid when Richard tried to take down his registration number.
There was a war of words and when he brushed past one of the men, the driver allegedly said careful it doesnt come off in a racially-charged comment.
The driver then allegedly said thats not your real name when Richard gave his English-sounding name.
What followed was an investigation poisoned with unconscious bias that saw the white van driver turned into a victim and Richard treated with unjustified distrust.
An employment tribunal heard how the investigating officer even admitted his own bias, when he said he treated Richards allegations about being racially abused with skepticism.
Richard said this bias ended up poisoning the disciplinary and appeal hearing.
The tribunal found the officer placed undue weight on CCTV evidence, which appeared to show Hastings pushing the driver, and failed to investigate his racial complaints.
The judgment stated: The tribunal has found as a fact that during the investigatory hearing the claimant [Hastings] provided evidence of racial abuse and of foul and offensive language being directed at him, but this was not investigated. We conclude that by failing to investigate this the claimant was treated less favourably because of race.
Richard believes he is not the only person at Kings College Hospital – which has hundreds of BME employees – to have gone through a process of discrimination.
The hospital trusts own Improvement Plan for Race Equality found BME employees were 2.75 times more likely to enter a formal disciplinary process than other staff.
He said: Theyre quite happy to downtrod the ethnic minorities and thats what has happened here.
Maybe this will make them look at the victims and say “maybe we have to change,” but maybe they will just continue the way they are.
He says he has applied for thousands of jobs ever since his dismissal, but has not found a permanent job because his main reference for the past two decades is the same employer who unfairly sacked him.
Richard said he was offered £1 million by the hospital trust a day before a remedy hearing on Wednesday, which was about to hear all the evidence of race discrimination found at the tribunal.
Fearing the breakdown of their family if the process went on any longer, Richard accepted the settlement.
But his wife, Fatima, says the trust has got away with it because they never had to stand up in court and defend their actions.
She added: Their failures have destroyed someones life and theyre not held accountable.
Now a million pounds has had to be paid out to pay Richard back what hes lost. But nobody is held accountable. Its just brushed under the carpet.
A spokesperson for the trust said: The Trust has apologised to Mr Hastings and we would like to extend that apology once again.
Kings is proud to be a major multicultural employer serving one of the most diverse communities in the UK and has implemented a number of changes to improve the support given to its staff.