The Scottish government has agreed to pay a “substantial settlement” in a racial discrimination case brought by a Black civil servant left “battling depression” after poor workplace treatment.
Rose Quarcoo, who was employed by the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS), alleged she experienced a series of acts of direct race discrimination, harassment and victimisation.
An employment tribunal in Edinburgh heard she was 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.
The case was settled after the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) funded a final eight-day hearing through its Race Legal Support Fund, which was launched in November.
“Nobody should be subjected to discrimination at work, and I am pleased that my case has now been settled,” Ms Quarcoo said.
“I am grateful to the Equality and Human Rights Commission for supporting my case and helping me get justice.”
Ms Quarcoo was employed by COPFS from September 2017 to September 2019 as an assistant finance business partner with responsibility for High Court and local court functions.
She has said 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.
Ms Quarcoo said that, as a result of her workplace 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.
This case is among the first to be supported by the EHRC’s fund which aims to improve outcomes for victims of racial discrimination by offering financial support to enable access to legal expertise.
Baroness Kishwer Falkner, chairwoman of the EHRC, told The Independent: “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.”
The commission has often been condemned as “toothless” by equality campaigners over its perceived inaction on tackling racism and sexism. In the wake of widespread Black Lives Matter movement, it also came under fire in 2020 for appointing David Goodhart as commissioner despite his previous inflammatory remarks on race.
A spokesperson for the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service told The Independent: “COPFS values its people and aims to encourage, support and protect diversity in our workplaces.
“We have extensive policies in place to promote equality of opportunity and treatment, and to eliminate unfair discrimination in our employment practices.
“We have reached a settlement with a former employee, the terms of which are confidential.”