Mayfair casino guilty of racial discrimination, tribunal finder | Race

An exclusive London casino racially discriminated against one of its dealers by allowing a request from a patron not to have black dealers at their table, an employment court has found.

Semhar Tesfagiorgis, 41, successfully sued the Crown London Aspinalls in Mayfair for an incident in December 2019 in which she and a black colleague were prevented from working at the table of a patron who had requested “light-skinned women”.

The casino had tried to argue that the reason for not allowing Tesfagiorgis and her colleague to deal with the patron was not because of race, but because of the perception that it was necessary to comply with customers’ request, no matter how unreasonable, in order to promote the interests of the company. This was rejected by the panel of three people at London’s central employment court, chaired by Judge Elliot.

In a written judgment, it stated: “Our finding is that the plaintiff and her black female colleagues were restrained from going on guard because they were not ‘fair-skinned, female dealers’ or ‘Western-looking female employees’ …

“The accommodation of the request was direct racial discrimination by the plaintiff because without her race she would have been asked to act with the patron. The granting of this request was a less favorable treatment of the leaders on the grounds of race.”

Aspinalls Casino on 15 July 2021 in Mayfair, central London
Aspinalls Casino on 15 July 2021 in Mayfair, central London. Photo: Dan Kitwood / Getty Images

The court also found that a complaint regarding an incident in June 2015 would have succeeded as an act of direct racial discrimination, but was obsolete because the claim had been made too late.

In that incident, Aspinalls refused to accede to a request from Tesfagiorgis for a probate because a patron did not want a black female dealer.

The panel said: “The probate was rejected because of the plaintiff’s race: she did not meet the patron’s requirement of ‘only white female dealers’, which the respondent met. The reason why the plaintiff was not one of the borrower’s preferred dealers is that she did not was white. The refusal of the probate was a less favorable treatment of the plaintiff because of her race. “

The panel noted that the casino had only one slide on a presentation given during the training, which dealt with guests’ behavior, and described the training as “inadequate”.

Comparing his victory with David to Goliath, Tesfagiorgis, who worked as an inspector / negotiator at Aspinalls between 2017 and 2020, said: “I tried for many years to open a dialogue about racism, which I and many others were often confronted with, but I was either shut down, ignored or turned on gas every time.

‘The direct discrimination I myself and other black colleagues received was not an isolated incident. Although the court could not rule on past events due to time constraints, they have acknowledged that this was the case and for once Crown Aspinalls will finally be forced to do the same, for this I am grateful for the right of employment. “

Her lawyer, Shazia Khan, a founding partner of Cole Khan, said she hoped the verdict led to “root-and-branch reform of the casino and gaming industry to address the racist and sexist behavior that drove my client out” of a career she clearly loved ”.

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