Ex-Gills player Mark McCammon was sacked because he is black, tribunal rules
Ex-striker Mark McCammon
won an employment tribunal against the Gills
A former Gillingham FC player was unfairly sacked because
he is black, a landmark tribunal has ruled.
Ex-striker Mark McCammon took legal action against the
club for race discrimination after being dismissed for
gross misconduct last year.
The 33-year-old claimed the League 2 club docked his wages,
refused him treatment for an injury and fined him for not turning
up in heavy snow.
He alleged he and other black players were treated differently
from white players in the first race case a footballer has
ever brought before an employment tribunal.
Now McCammon's case against his former club has been upheld
by an Ashford employment tribunal, which decided he had been
dismissed as an act of "racial victimisation".
The tribunal has reserved its decision on compensation until a
hearing scheduled to take place on Friday, August 10.
A statement issued on behalf of McCammon spoke of
his relief and delight at the verdict.
McCammon's barrister Rad Kohanzad said: "Usually, most disputes
between club and player are dealt with by the Football League or
the Football Association internally.
"However, this is the first race victimisation case that a
footballer has brought before an employment tribunal, in a public
"The employment tribunal unanimously found that the club
racially victimised and unfairly dismissed Mr McCammon and that
some of the witnesses who gave evidence against him colluded in
preparing their statements."
The Gills, who strongly denied the allegations, have
released a statement saying they are "hugely disappointed" and
"staggered" by the decision and will be discussing the judgement
with their lawyers.
Mark McCammon was a Gills
striker for three seasons
McCammon, a former Barbados international, became the
highest paid player at the club when he signed in 2008 -
before being sacked for gross misconduct in 2011.
He took the Gills to a four-day tribunal for
unfair dismissal, race victimisation and failure to pay wages.
The tribunal upheld claims of race victimisation
by dismissal, unfair dismissal and unauthorised deduction
from wages. It did not uphold a claim of race victimisation by
detriment - a legal term for when someone is treated unfavourably
because they have made a race discimination claim, aside from
Witness statements revealed a bitter row between McCammon
and Gills manager Andy Hessenthaler ended in them being separated
as tempers flared.
The dispute came to a head with an extraordinary
confronation in November 2010, when McCammon and fellow
players Josh Gowling and Curtis Weston missed training due to the
McCammon said conditions were too treacherous to make it in, but
this was disputed by the club.
Chairman Paul Scally, who in his submission said he was
concerned the players were 'trying it on', asked for photographs of
the road around their home in Frindsbury Hill, Strood, to be
McCammon claimed other white players were told not to come in
and did not have photographs taken of the area around their
Mark McCammon had a
furious row in manager Andy Hessenthaler's office
Soon after an ultimatum from the club, there was said to
be a furious row in manager Andy Hessenthaler's office.
McCammon accused the now former Gills boss of being "racially
intolerant" and assistant Nicky Southall had to step in and
separate the pair, the tribunal heard.
The striker was suspended, fined two weeks' wages and eventually
sacked by the club following a disciplinary hearing.
McCammon, who was injured at the time of the bust-up, also
alleged the club failed to pay for treatment that would get him fit
The club, he claimed, forced him to stay behind long after other
players had left and he ended up watching "mind-numbing day-time TV
and Britain's Got Talent".
McCammon also claimed the club tried to "frustrate him out" by
refusing to pay for his medical care.
He was offered an operation for his ankle injury on the NHS
rather than privately, which he claims was "out of character for a
football league club".
"Mr McCammon hopes that his success will make other players feel free to raise legitimate complaints of discrimination and not suffer the traumatic treatment that he has for doing so…” – Mark McCammon's lawyer
The club said its policy was for non-urgent operations to be
carried out on the NHS as a way of ensuring the club did not
overspend on medical care.
McCammon's lawyer Sim Owolabi said: "Mr McCammon is relieved
that he has been afforded the opportunity to put forward the truth
about the experience he suffered at the hands of his former
"He is pleased that the employment tribunal has found in his
favour and feels that the judgment makes clear that his dismissal
was not only unfair but an act of race victimisation.
"Mr McCammon raised a legitimate complaint of race
discrimination, which the tribunal found that Mr Scally had
discounted from the start as being without merit. Mr Scally did not
bother to investigate the complaint and ultimately dismissed him
because of it.
"The employment tribunal also made clear that the club’s
witnesses not only colluded in the preparation of their witnesses
statements leading to his dismissal but also colluded in the
preparation of their evidence before the employment tribunal. Mr
McCammon is astounded that the club went to such lengths to both
dismiss him and win their case before the tribunal.
"Mr McCammon hopes that his success will make other players feel
free to raise legitimate complaints of discrimination and not
suffer the traumatic treatment that he has for doing so.
"He wishes to thank all those who stood by him during the very
difficult and prolonged trial period which tested the courage of
his supporters. Their support was invaluable and he now wishes to
be able to put the matter behind him and carry on with his
A statement from Gillingham FC said: "Today we have
received the decision of the Ashford Employment Tribunal which sets
out their findings that Mark McCammon was unfairly dismissed and
that his dismissal was an act of racial victimisation.
"We are hugely disappointed, in fact staggered, by this
decision. As an organisation we are an equal opportunity employer
and do not discriminate against, nor victimise our staff.
"This case is the first of its kind to be brought against the
club in its entire history, a history that has seen the club
employ many thousands of staff of various race, religion and creed,
none of whom have ever felt the need to bring such a claim.
"Given the nature of the case, and the findings, we will discuss
the judgement with our lawyers and decide upon the next course of
action, whether that be an appeal against the findings, or another
form of action, as deemed appropriate.
"There will be no further comment on the case by the club until
the matter has run its full course."
McCammon ended last season with Lincoln City, but is now
understood to be a free agent.
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