An employment tribunal has found that exclusive London casino Crown Aspinalls racially discriminated against one of its dealers by allowing a request by a patron not to have black dealers at their table.
Semhar Tesfagiorgis, who is black British with a national ethnic origin of Eritrean, successfully sued the casino over an incident in December 2019, when she and a black colleague were prevented from working at the table who had requested “females with fair skin”.
The tribunal heard evidence that racist and sexist demands of rich patrons of the Club were routinely accommodated. It specifically found: “that the claimant and her black female colleagues were held back from going on duty because they were not “Western looking female staff”.
For the majority of the time that Tesfagiorgis worked for the Gaming Department of the casino in Curzon Street it had only three black employees out of approximately 100. There were no black male dealers or inspectors. The three black employees were all of gave evidence to the tribunal.
Crown Aspinalls tried to defend the claims by stating that the reason for not allowing Tesfagiorgis and her black colleague from dealing with a patron was not because of race, “but because of the perception that it was necessary to accommodate patrons’ request, no matter how unreasonable, in order the further the interests of the business.”
This was dismissed, and the tribunal said: “We find that it was direct discrimination. The reason that the claimant was not brought on to deal to the patron in June 2015 and on 4 December 2019 was because she is black.”
The successful Tesfagiorgis said: “This has been a long and hard journey of David and Goliath proportions. I took on the might of a multibillion pound industry that has exploited the whims and wants of rich patrons to the detriment of its hard working staff for far too long.”
She describes how she had been “gas lighted”and “shut down” when she tried to discuss the racism she had experienced, and acknowledged this was not an isolated incident.
Founding Partner of Cole Khan Solicitors, Shazia Khan, who has acted for the Claimant throughout her Tribunal claim expressed hope that “it [the decision] enables a root and branch reform of the Casino and Gaming Industry to address the racist and sexist conduct that drove my client out of a career she clearly loved.”