Chartered surveyor who was forced to quit after telling colleagues their company had HIV and he was brought in ‘to stop it becoming full blown AIDS’, loses his racial discrimination claim
- Geoffrey Madawho, 48, heralded his arrival at new job as ‘new sheriff in town’
- He then told them their firm had HIV and he was going to stop in becoming AIDS
- After he was told to reign in his comments he resigned after just seven days
A chartered quantity surveyor lost his job after telling colleagues their company had HIV and he had been ‘brought in to stop it before it became full blown AIDS’, a tribunal heard.
Geoffrey Madawho, 48, heralded his arrival at Kent County Council-owned Gen2 Properties by declaring there was a ‘new sheriff in town’.
But after the HIV comment and subsequently being told to dial things down a notch, he resigned after just seven days.
He then launched a claim of racial discrimination and harassment but this was dismissed by an employment tribunal after the judge said his behaviour was ‘an example of him acting out what he has heard in TV court room dramas and lacks any credibility’.
Madawho, a highly qualified chartered quantity surveyor from Nigeria with more than 20 years experience in the construction industry, was appointed as Associate Quantity Surveyor, a senior management position at Gen2’s Maidstone office with a salary of £83,000 per annum.
He was only there for seven days before his employment suddenly terminated in June 2019. He claimed he was dismissed because of his African ethnicity but the tribunal found he had voluntarily resigned.
The company he worked for was owned by Kent County Council, whose HQ is pictured here
The tribunal held in Croydon, London heard Mr Madawho was ‘rude and abrupt with staff, that he upset the team and failed to show leadership and diplomacy; essentially from the start of employment he was like ‘a bull in a china shop”.
He told the tribunal he felt like ‘John Wayne’, and also likened himself to ‘Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible’.
He said ‘I want to hit the ground running no parachute’, that he was passionate about being a chartered surveyor and thought he had found a company which had appreciated that.
With two or three days of his employment, members of staff told bosses they were worried by Mr Madawho’s reference to him being there to deal with the ‘mess’ the company was in and he had said he ‘was the new sheriff in town’.
The complaints were that his manner was ‘bullish, rude or aggressive’.
He heralded his arrival at Kent County Council-owned Gen2 Properties by declaring there was a ‘new sheriff in town’.
On one occasion he likened the company to having HIV and claimed he had been ‘brought in to stop it before it became full blown AIDS’
When he was asked by Head of Projects Joanne Taylor about ‘toning down his approach to staff’, she mentioned she had been working there since 2001.
He then commented: “You’ve been in post a very long time. In fact, I was sucking on my mum’s tits still when you must have started here.”
When Ms Taylor was affronted by the comment he replied that he was sorry if his language had upset her, ‘but that it was our culture and this is how we speak’.
At a senior management meeting on Friday 31st May 2019 Executive Chairman Paul Jones saw Mr Madawho’s interaction with the team, with whom he was abrupt and told them how they had been doing things wrong.
After the meeting he asked Mr Madawho to ‘tone things down’ with members of staff.
Employment Judge Anita Richardson said Mr Jones ‘had to act’ after hearing Mr Madawho had so upset a colleague she was crying and said she wanted to resign.
He added: “He needed to tell [Mr Madawho] he was going about the things the wrong way.”
Mr Jones called a meeting later that day where he again told Mr Madawho about things he needed to improve on but Mr Madawho quit, saying: “I knew you were going to sack me, so I’m going to resign.”
While Mr Madawho had claimed he was sacked because of his race, the judge said: “There is nothing racist in Mr Jones’s conduct.
“It was the conduct of a concerned manager dealing with a newly recruited senior manager who seemed to have completely misunderstood his role and the appropriate way to lead his new team.
“Mr Jones would have treated in exactly the same way another recruit to the same post, holding the same qualifications and experience as the claimant, being similar to the claimant in all respects except for being white, and who had acted in the same way as the claimant.”
Mr Madawho told the tribunal he had been recruited to do Mr Jones’s ‘dirty work’ and that he was the ‘fall guy’ and Mr Jones ‘would not be able to do it, he got me to do it, dirty Harry, Mission impossible’.
He also said: “Because white people aren’t treated so unfavourable – it’s easier to get a black person to do the dirty work and so I was the fall guy.”
But the judge concluded this ‘was an example of him acting out what he has heard in TV court room dramas and lacks any credibility’.
The tribunal dismissed his claims of race discrimination and harassment and also his claims of wrongful dismissal and unlawful deduction from wages.
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