Mrs Parmar, a British national of Indian origin, had worked for the local authority for more than 30 years, taking on the Head of Service for Locality West role within the Adult Social Care and Safeguarding Division in 2005.  

Responsible for overseeing multiple teams within the division, in January 2021, she was subjected to a disciplinary investigation by her line manager, a senior staff member at the council, over claims that she was acting inappropriately in correspondence with her colleagues.  

She was later dismissed from her role, and she contacted UNISON’s legal services through her union membership to take legal action against her former employer.  

An initial employment tribunal in April 2023 found that the investigation into Mrs Parmar’s conduct lacked substance and that there was ‘no other credible explanation’ for her treatment other than racial discrimination.  

Leicester City Council appealed the judgment, challenging the original tribunal's findings on various grounds, including alleged misapplication of the law and inadequate reasoning.  

However, in a judgment handed down earlier this month, the Employment Appeal Judge upheld the tribunal's decision, saying that the council had failed to disprove discrimination in relation to Mrs Parmar's treatment. 

Mrs Palmer

Commenting on her ordeal and the outcome of the case, Mrs Parmar said that she remained ‘hurt and disappointed’ by the council's actions, and the ‘lack of evidence that lessons have been learnt’.  

She says that while she believes her former line manager is still in her role, she was dismissed and no longer feels that she can return to her job as a social worker because of the stress and anxiety caused by the treatment she endured.  

“This has been a very difficult time for both me and my family,” said Mrs Parmar. “I loved my job, and I had dedicated a significant portion of my life to the council. In return, I was subjected to an investigation that was dragged on and on, despite no evidence to suggest my behaviour had been inappropriate or that I had behaved negatively towards my colleagues.  

“At no point were the actions of my line manager called into question, and no wider internal investigation took place to respond to my own allegations of racial discrimination. Even after an employment tribunal ruled in my favour, Leicester City Council put every effort into appealing the decision. Even now they have threatened to take the matter further.  

“Sadly, I am aware of other colleagues who worked for the council who suffered similar discrimination. It makes me so upset and angry that they are wasting money and time fighting instead of learning from my ordeal.” 

Zaf Aktar, a senior lawyer at Thompsons Solicitors, who advised Mrs Parmer through UNISON’s legal services scheme, said that the ruling highlights the ‘significant impact’ of racial discrimination on the wellbeing of affected employees and underscores the importance of fair and unbiased decision-making within public institutions.  

She said, “We are delighted to have secured such a positive outcome for our client following a very difficult and stressful legal process. The judge's findings act as an important reminder of employers' legal responsibilities to ensure that their actions and decisions are free from discriminatory practices.  

“We hope that further to this judgment Leicester City Council will take the opportunity to review its internal policies and procedures in relation to disciplinary investigations to ensure that no one should have to go through what Mrs Parmar has experienced in the future.” 

Mrs Parmar is also bringing an unfair dismissal claim against Leicester City Council. A hearing is scheduled to take place later this year. 

Commenting on the support that she received from UNISON legal services, Mrs Parmar added: “You hope never to find yourself in a situation where you are being unfairly treated or discriminated against in your job, but if you do find yourself in such an unfortunate place, you hope to have people around you who can guide and support. 

“The legal advice and help that I received from Thompsons through my UNISON membership has been fantastic. I am incredibly grateful to have had them by my side over the last few years.” 

We note that the Council has now submitted a further application for permission to appeal this EAT judgment to the Court of Appeal.