A teenage student from Birmingham has succeeded in a legal fight against a Chinese restaurant after claiming he had been sacked for being white.
David O’Neill won a race discrimination battle against the Ocean Dragon in Birmingham’s Chinese quarter following a year-long fight for compensation.
The 19-year-old, from Selly Oak, successfully sued the diner after his hours were drastically cut by a new Chinese manager who handed his shifts to workers from China.
Mr O’Neill, a first-year law student at Staffordshire University, won his lengthy battle after representing himself at a Birmingham employment tribunal and was awarded total compensation of £5,322.89.
But he is yet to receive a penny from the restaurant owners – and a High Court appointed bailiff will now be sent in to recover compensation if the Ocean Dragon fails to comply.
He started working at the Ocean Dragon, an upmarket Arcadian Centre restaurant, in May 2010 as a part-time waiter under a white manager, his first-ever job.
“From the end of October 2010, a new Chinese manager was appointed as general manager who cut my hours dramatically and those of other white staff, until I was given no hours whatsoever after November 2010,” he said.
“Although I kept contacting the manager, she kept informing me that there were no hours available but she would be in touch.”
Mr O’Neill said he realised he was being discriminated against on ethnic grounds after new Chinese staff were recruited to take over his hours – despite assurances from the manager that he would be given more work.
“I sent a letter of complaint to the company outlining my concerns and they denied all knowledge of me even working at the company,” he said. “As the company seemed to completely disregard and push my grievances aside, I felt I had no option but to begin legal proceedings.”
In legal proceedings which lasted from last May until December, Mr O’Neill sued for discrimination, unfair dismissal, failure to issue a contract of employment, and unauthorised deductions.
No comment was available from the restaurant.