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Accent row: NRI call centre staffer wins suit

November 28, 2007 23:14 IST

A Non Resident Indian, who was sent back to the United Kindom early from a two-month work trip to India because his accent was not 'English enough', has been awarded a compensation of £5,000 after winning a racial discrimination case against his employer.

Chetankumar Meshram (27), a call centre trainer was awarded £5,000 compensation after being sent back to England just three weeks into a two-month post at the telecom firm Talk Talk Direct's office in Delhi.

Meshram, who was born in India but moved to Britain in 2005, said: "I was called into a meeting with my boss, who told me I was to be replaced with a better English speaker. I know I speak with an accent but my job out there was to give technical advice, not to give expertise on how to communicate. It was an embarrassing and humiliating experience."

Meshram, currently pursuing his Master's degree in Management studies from the University of Northampton, filed the case with the help of the Northamptonshire Racial Equality Council.

Last week, Bedford Employment Tribunal found that he had suffered both direct and indirect discrimination and awarded him compensation for hurting his feelings and expenses incurred during his trip to India.

Meshram, who still works for Talk Talk at its Northampton office, said: "I hope that this ruling will encourage people to select employees to carry out work based on their skills and knowledge regardless of what country they live or work in."

Christopher Fray, of the Equality Council, who represented Meshram at the tribunal, said: "Meshram is an extremely friendly, intelligent, and efficient worker. It is sad that he has had to endure humiliation because he has an Indian accent."

"This case delivers a clear message to the community that preconceived ideas about a person's intelligence or ability should not be judged by the type of accent they speak with."

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