A cleaning lady at a Catholic boys’ school won a payment of Â£ 6,280 after a colleague made a racist remark about her “use of voodoo”.
Annmarie Jenkins-Hurrell, an elderly black woman of Caribbean descent, was subjected to a “degrading and offensive” remark by a guard at Campion School, in Hornchurch, London.
An employment tribunal heard that colleagues of Ms Jenkins-Hurrell, who worked in high school for five years, told her they were “afraid” of her.
A colleague, a guard, then asked ‘what are you going to do, work on your voodoo?’.
After she complained, the school rejected her grievance, causing her to resign.
Now the cleaning lady has received payment after a court found she had been treated unfairly.
Annmarie Jenkins-Hurrell, an elderly black woman of Caribbean descent, was subjected to a “degrading and offensive” remark by a guard at Campion School (pictured), in Hornchurch, London
What is voodoo?
Voodoo – also spelled Vodou and Voudon – is a religion that originated in Africa.
Although its exact origins are unknown, it is believed to have originated in the West African nation of Benin and is believed to have evolved from ancient traditions of ancestor worship.
In West African voodoo, the creator is known as Mawu or Mahu and is female in form.
However, voodoo has no scriptures or world authority – and therefore practices and beliefs differ from community to community.
However, it is generally community-centered and emphasizes individual experience, empowerment and responsibility.
In the Americas and the Caribbean, it is believed to be a combination of various African, Catholic and Native American traditions.
Louisiana voodoo and Haitian voodoo are two forms that developed in areas where slaves were taken from West Africa to the Americas.
Bondye is the supreme creator of Haitian voodoo, with deities called lwa.
The wider voodoo religion is largely misunderstood in the Western world – what researchers say is based on racism dating back to the slave trade.
It became taboo during this time, with religion being rejected as superstition and voodoo priests classified as wizards.
Hollywood has also been accused of âdreamingâ of practices such as âvoodoo dollsâ in which pins are placed in a doll with the person they are supposed to represent feeling real pain.
Experts say such dolls are used in many cultures, but do not feature prominently in the religion of voodoo.
Ms Jenkins-Hurrell worked as a housekeeper at London High School and High School for almost five years starting in January 2014.
A virtual hearing held at the East London Tribunal Center learned that Ms Jenkins-Hurrell was the only of 11 housekeepers to be black.
The court heard that in the fall of 2017 Ms Jenkins-Hurrell and Christopher Conner, the site manager, were having a conversation about washing her cleaning rags.
Mr. Conner had arranged for another member of staff to wash all the clothes, for which she would be paid extra.
But Ms Jenkins-Hurrell said she normally takes care of it herself and wondered about the terms of additional pay.
The housekeeper then told her that she expected her clothes to be washed and clean by Monday morning.
She told the court that in response to this, Paul Day, the warden, said, “Oh, so if you’re not going to have clean clothes by Monday, what are you going to do, work on your voodoo. ? “
Ruling that Mr Day made the remark, the court said: “To refer to an elderly black woman of Caribbean descent working her voodoo is an offensive racist comment,” he said.
“The comment had both the aim and the effect of violating [her] dignity and was both degrading and offensive.
However, it wasn’t until at least six months later that Ms Jenkins-Hurrell shared the racist comment with her bosses.
She also claimed she was excluded from extra shifts as the only black housekeeper.
In May 2018, during a meeting to discuss his complaints, it was found that manager Keith Williams had behaved in a “hostile and intimidating” manner towards the cleaner.
As a result of this meeting, Ms Jenkins-Hurrell wrote a formal letter of complaint to the board of directors which led to the opening of an investigation by Deputy Director Georgina Peters, a former police officer and science professor at the school.
This investigation found no evidence of harassment or intimidation.
However, the court ruled that this investigation was “fundamentally unfair” and “totally inappropriate”.
Ms Jenkins-Hurrell then resigned in November 2018.
In her resignation letter, she said: âI am writing to officially submit my resignation. I think this is the only option after the outcome of my grievance and the continued stress the school has placed on me. ‘
The court said: “(She) expressed her displeasure with the way Mr. Williams was treated towards her during this process and she claimed that she had been the victim of racial discrimination, d ‘bullying and victimization and which the school had illegally deducted from his salary. “
She found that although Mr. Day’s comments constituted harassment, she had left it too late for her request to be successful in this regard.
However, she concluded that she had been the victim of a constructive wrongful dismissal due to the mistreatment of her complaints.
As a result, she has now received Â£ 6,281.57.