A wealthy property tycoon was guilty of racial discrimination when she described one of her managers as a ‘Pakistani crook’, a tribunal has ruled.
Fawzia Al-Hassawi had maintenance chief Abdul Malik fired after flying into a rage over a leak in the swimming pool room at her Oxfordshire mansion, an employment judge heard.
It was claimed the 69-year-old Kuwaiti magnate – named by Forbes magazine as one of the Middle East’s most powerful women – said her money was ‘going down the drain’ with Mr Malik. The tribunal was told that in a fit of temper she called him the ‘son of 16 donkeys’, a ‘moron’, ‘jerk’ and ‘scum’.
It was also alleged that at one point she said he should be thankful she did not ‘hit him with her shoe’.
Mr Malik was dismissed in 2020, with Ms Al-Hassawi’s company claiming it was because of the impact of the pandemic. He sued the firm for unfair dismissal, harassment and race discrimination.
He won the case this week and reached a financial settlement.
Judge Roseanne Russell heard that Ms Al-Hassawi said of the manager: ‘I hate these crook Pakistanis like Malik, I would not have hired him if I knew he was Pakistani.’
The east London tribunal was told that Mr Malik’s employer London-based Al Mubarakia manages a range of properties including historic buildings such as the Grade
Mr Malik – a British citizen of Pakistani origin – started work for her in May 2016 and later became group facilities manager.
The tribunal heard he was responsible for the management of her UK mansion and carried out ‘personal tasks for Madame Al-Hassawi, such as driving or shopping’,
In 2020, due to the pandemic, the businesswoman found herself ‘stranded’ in the UK and ended up staying at the Oxfordshire property – bought for nearly £3million four years ago – for longer than usual.
In June Mr Malik sent her a quote for repairs to leaks, but the work had not been authorised by her when there was later ‘heavy rain which turned the existing leak in the pool room into a more serious water ingress’.
The judge was told Ms Al-Hassawi held a meeting with other staff, during which she ‘repeatedly questioned his [Mr Malik’s] competence and angrily referred to him in extremely offensive terms’.
The tribunal heard she was ‘fixated’ on the idea he was stealing from her or misusing her money.
Mr Malik’s dismissal was confirmed the following month. Ms Al-Hassawi described Mr Malik’s allegations of discrimination as ‘quite simply absurd’ and denied making derogatory comments because of his Pakistani heritage.
But the tribunal said: ‘The dismissal was capricious, born of pique and an unwarranted personal dislike of him.’ It found as fact that Ms Al-Hassawi did make the ‘crook Pakistanis’ comment ‘thereby linking her belief that he was dishonest with his race’.