Joseval vents anger at racist bosses

Unite wins discrimination case for construction worker Joseval

Reading time: 4 min

Being a migrant worker is tough at times, and the construction sector can pose particular challenges, as one Unite member found after being held back and underpaid at work due to discrimination from his employer and managers.

But thanks to support from Unite and his branch, Joseval Arcanjo Dos Santos has received nearly £28k in compensation at an Employment Tribunal.

Joseval, a Brazilian national with a Portuguese background, is a construction worker and electrician who is a member of Unite’s London Building workers Branch LE/UG 00. He successfully applied for a job installing ventilation systems with AV Unibrak South Ltd., a construction sub-contractor.

But he soon found himself stuck on the initial trainee rate, with his wages never rising. He was overlooked for pay rises that other employees received, and he was expected to carry out menial tasks that less experienced, non-black workers were never asked to do.

This led to Joseval experiencing a lot of stress and anxiety, something that judges at the Tribunal recognised in the discrimination case. They said in their judgement that “Those feelings of humiliation, frustration and betrayal would, again, have been the daily experience of Mr Dos Santos as he attended work through to the date of his dismissal.”

After just over a year at the firm, Joseval was dismissed; he then got in touch with Unite regional officer Vince McCoy.

Joseval said, “I contacted Vince and he put me in touch with the legal team and OH Parsons, and they took the case on.”

Joseval was disappointed that it came to this — he said he actually enjoyed the work as a ventilation installer. But he explained that the stress from his treatment at the company had resulted in long-term mental health problems that are only now just improving.

He told UniteLive, “They created a lot of stress in my mind because they did not want to give some of their employees their rights. My treatment, and the case itself, played a lot on my mind. I needed counselling that lasted a year following the experience, but I have started to get better.”

Joseval said he has always been someone to fight for his rights, but that the legal system in England leans towards the employer, which makes it difficult for former employees to make a claim. However, with the support of the Unite legal team, he was successful in pursuing his discrimination case.

He was full of praise for the union’s solicitors.

“I was very impressed with the barrister,” Joseval said. “He was very combative, and got all the information we needed, dug deeply into my case and was very skilled in finding everything I needed for the tribunal.”

This March, Joseval was presented with a cheque for £27,624.87 by Vince and fellow members of his branch at a meeting in London (pictured above).

Vince said, “Joseval was racially discriminated against and treated appallingly by his employer. He did the right thing contacting the union so we could offer him the full support of our legal team and solicitors.”

“Hopefully the compensation allocated by the Employment Tribunal will go some way to helping Joseval move on. Unite will always stand up to bad employer and support any members being discriminated against.”

Find out more about Unite’s legal services here.

By Keith Hatch

Lead pic by Mark Thomas

In text pic by Unite Construction