A 60-year-old British train conductor is suing his former employer, West Midlands Trains, for firing him after he questioned a “white privilege” diversity training course during a conversation with his wife.
Simon Isherwood was fired from his job for gross misconduct after he participated in a diversity training session in March 2021. According to Reclaim the Net, Isherwood spoke to his wife while forgetting that his microphone was still on, and some colleagues overheard him questioning the concept of white privilege. He was tattled on by his colleagues who were reportedly “angered” by his line of questioning.
“I couldn't be arsed because I thought, ‘you know what, I’ll just get f*cking angry.’” Isherwood said to his wife, the Telegraph reported. “You know what I really wanted to ask?… and I wish I had, do they have black privilege in other countries? So, if you’re in Ghana?…”
Isherwood argued that his remarks were intended to be private and that he was unaware that his microphone was live when he complained to his wife about the diversity training course. He said that he felt the trainers were “indoctrinating their views,” which “implied all white people are racist — but I’m not.”
His employer, West Midlands Trains, suspended him from work pending a probe, and later fired him after the probe found that he had “caused offense, brought the company into disrepute and breached our Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Policy and the Code of Conduct.”
The Telegraph reports that his internal appeals were rejected, prompting him to sue his former employer, accusing the company of unfair dismissal.
“I am completely shocked, I was at home in my own time talking to my wife, it was a private conversation. I had no idea anyone was listening to me,” said Isherwood to the Telegraph. “I’ve lost my job, my income, my reputation, my health is absolutely shot to pieces. I’d worked there for 11 and a half years and never had anything but promotion, praise and awards and even now I can’t believe it.”
“All I was trying to do was understand the subject better — we had been asked to think of questions so I did exactly what I was asked to do. I said Ghana because it’s something I always used to talk about with one of my colleagues, who is from Ghana and supported me,” he added.
Isherwood, who is seeking damages from his former employer, describes his firing as “unfair, unreasonable, and unlawful,” and added that he believes he was fired because the company is afraid of facing allegations from its woke employees over his conduct.