Amey Mouchel bosses said the jailing last week of three of their employees jailed for racist bullying at work was a lesson for the whole industry.
Highway maintenance worker Amjid Mehmood suffered nine months of physical and racial abuse, including being tied to railings, hosed with water and having his trousers set on fire. The incidents happened between autumn 2005 and summer 2006, while he was working for the Amey Mouchel highway maintenance joint venture at a depot in Bescot, Walsall.
Last Thursday his three co-workers Lee McDermott, 31, Sean Melaney, 28, and Phillip Skett, 39 were told they would be jailed for three years each after all admitted racial harassment at Wolverhampton Crown Court.
Amey managing director Chris Webster and Mouchel chief executive Richard Cuthbert both said that their firms did not tolerate racist behaviour and pointed out that Mehmood only reported the nine separate incidents of racial harassment after he had left the company.
“At that stage we launched an immediate internal investigation and all three employees subsequently left the company,” said Webster.
Cuthbert added: “We believe that there is a lesson for the industry as a whole here and that firms will need to reflect on the effectiveness of their communication processes in dealing with such incidents.
“We place a high value on the diversity of our workforce and we are committed to providing a working environment where all employees are valued and respected. There is no place in our organisation for people who behave in this way and we will continue to deal robustly with any future incidents of this type.” Other incidents of abuse involved the accused removing Mehmood’s trousers and exposing him to passing motorists while they worked on the M6 motorway in Cannock, Staffordshire.
His trousers had also been set on fire while he was wearing them, the court was told. While riots raged between Asians and Afro-Caribbeans in the Lozells area of Birmingham in 2005, Mehmood was driven by the group to an area with a large Afro-Caribbean population and abandoned. The court heard they then racially abused him and told him the local residents “were coming to get him”.
On his last day of work, he was tied to railings, hosed down with cold water and force-fed bacon, which he cannot eat as part of his religious beliefs. The incident was filmed on a mobile phone.
Mehmood eventually reported the incidents to his employer and police.