I read that you worked for UPS for 11 years prior to the problems that arose when they merged with Lynx Courier (another company). Tell me what they were like as employers during this time and how you felt working for them:
I started working for UPS in 1998 as a Customer Service Agent. I was very proud to work for a company that was globally recognised. I got on well with all people from management to staff and had respect for everyone, including the cleaning staff.
Would you say you loved your job?
I loved my job dearly and as a result of my total time at UPS I received seven 100% certificates during my eleven year period.
Isn’t it true to say, that while the merger was taking place in 2008, you were given the responsibility to supervise the merge of all Lynx Courier accounts in your department?
It is true that I was given responsibility to supervise the merger in my department. I was sent to a meeting with all of the Area Managers and the Sales Director, who went through how important this project’s success was to UPS and that this was a number one priority.
So it’s true to say that they perceived you to be a valued and trusted member of staff?
In my department I was often referred to as “The Oracle” because I was the person that management and staff alike would ask for help on things. I came to the sales department from The International Problem Resolution Department. This job was to get parcels delivered in transit on import or export that had some delay. Being from that background was an asset to the Sales Department.
What is a PIP and how did it come about that you received one?
For the uninitiated, Performance Improvement Plans are a program that you put an employee on so you can closely monitor their work because somebody, somewhere, has determined that they aren’t cutting it and need remedial help.
My new manager, whom was the Director of Lynx Couriers decided to use a PIP to set up the framework to boot me out the door.
And was this authorised by Human Resources?
The PIP was not authorised by Human Resources. This made alarm bells ring because the UPS culture had always been a tight ship regarding Human Resources.
In previous interviews, you described your warning letter as being “smudged”, what precisely do you mean by this?
The warning letter looked like it had been deliberately smudged with a thumb mark over my name. I know accidents can happen, but under the circumstances of everything that had happened and understanding that the manager had a personal vendetta against me from me being the only person ever being placed on a PIP, the highest target ever in the department and being shouted at when I asked “If I am the only one on the PIP” I can only go on opinion based on what facts were presented before me.
Tell me what happened between then and when you resigned in March 2010:
Jan, 2009 I raised the issue with HR and I started to have anxiety attacks. My sleeping patterns were messed up and I was also signed off sick from my doctor. He saw the smudged letter and made notes about it. I had an appeal meeting with my previous manager whom apologized about the letter and advised she would investigate my claims and get back to me.
At the same time my mother had a heart attack and had to have emergency surgery to fix her heart valve. This was my worst period of my life and cannot describe, or wish to go back to that period.
I went to work as normal, keeping the secret that my mother had undergone surgery, as I felt I was under watchful eyes of management and staff.
I received an email from HR to advise the conclusion for the appeal was: “We will remove the warning but you will be placed back on the PIP with realistic goals.”
I then emailed HR to ask for the UPS corporate details to escalate to Atlanta, Georgia, USA.
Ten minutes later I got a call to ask for an emergency meeting. Nine days later we had the emergency meeting with HR, My manager, my previous manager and a staff member.
In that meeting I explained that I was not happy about the appeal conclusion and being placed back on the PIP. My previous manager said “Ignore that line”. I said I’m taking what you have given in writing so after verbally telling them of my disgust of the whole situation and how it had been handled, my manager was forced to apologise. I refused his apology because he did not mean it and if I did not escalate with HR, this emergency meeting would not have taken place! I closed the meeting by producing a letter to raise a grievance against my manager. After the meeting I also asked HR for the UPS corporate details to send them the information I’d gathered up to that point, but she gave me the UK office and HR manager contact.
I posted the letter and followed up with an email to get confirmation that the documents were received. The answer I got back was that the documents were received and what should I do with them? This made alarm bells ring because no HR manager would reply with such an answer. I checked the UPS organisation chart and realized I had been given false information. At this point I decided to take a day off work and make my application to the Nottingham Tribunal. I also posted the documents to the UPS Corporate office in America and received an email confirmation thanking me for bringing this to their attention.
The Tribunal case was open on May 14, 2009. I continued to work there under great pressure from the job and also from the fact that I was moved to a desk outside of a manager’s office. I trusted nobody, but did my job duties to the high standard that I always worked to.
My last day at UPS was March 18, 2010. One week before the tribunal case on March 23 – 25, 2010.
When you represented yourself at the Race Discrimination Tribunal several weeks later, you claimed that the judge deliberately dismissed key evidence. Can you tell us precisely what evidence was dismissed?
The judge ignored the whole evidence. Just to let people know, the case bundle is 99.9% of UPS documentation showing that all of my claims are true. The UPS witness statements and their witness testimony in court shows how strong my case is and how weak and guilty UPS are. This was my reason to represent myself because it’s such a blatant discrimination case, that even if I were Caucasian it would still be discrimination.
At this stage, how did you feel towards the people who had previously treated you as an asset to their team?
My spirit was crushed. Some of the managers involved with this had known me for years. To see them side with the manager and his wrong-doing made me angry and physically sick. With what I have gone through I don’t trust easily and I have no expectations that people will treat me in a correct manner.
How did all of this impact on your emotional well being?
Since this has happened I find it hard to relax. I always have to be busy so the mind doesn’t wonder to this past experience. I became very withdrawn. Time is a great healer. I’m now feeling slightly better.
Did you appeal against the Tribunal’s decision? And if so, what happened next?
I did appeal with the help of my MP, but was only given a verbal hearing. The judge stood by the decision of the Nottingham judge and didn’t care. I did have a free representation lawyer at that court but he decided to pull out 5 minutes before the hearing.
I represented myself again and stated my case. The court clerk and the note taker looked angry, confused and amazed as they heard my case. I told the judge I will go further!
Has your case and appeal been given a date to be heard yet in the Court of Appeal in London?
In March, 2011. The Court of Appeal and The European Commission opened cases.
October 2012. The court of Appeal closed the case stating you are not likely to be successful. In November, 2012 The European Commission close the case with an explanation that I need to go back to the UK courts. The European commission is meant to investigate and pass this onto The European Court for Human Rights.
What things have you done since the start of this ordeal to bring it to light to the general public?
After realizing that a judge can be as bias and corrupt as the next man, I decided to go public with my story. In September 2011, I got my story published in The Minority Perspective, The Voice and Afro News in the UK and The Hinterland Gazette in Atlanta, Georgia, USA.
With the online links for these publications, I then used Twitter @clivehenry1 to network this story to the masses to raise awareness that things like this are happening. I gained a lot of support on Twitter from Human Rights groups, celebrities, companies and the general public. The story has been re-tweeted in its millions. I also made contact with and have done two radio pod casts, The Dr Vibe Show (Toronto, Canada) and Awaked Radio (Alabama, USA).
I also know that you sent a complaint to the European Commission for Human Rights in Brussels…what is the progress with that so far?
The European commission is meant to investigate and pass this onto The European Court for Human Rights. This case is now closed.
Based upon the evidence I’ve seen so far, the interviews and articles and the original paperwork itself, I truly believe that you’ve been a victim of blatant racial discrimination in the workplace. By pursuing the truth, what do you hope to achieve in the long term?
What I hope to achieve is setting a precedent to help amend and expose the system for the flaws in how justice is carried out. For people to have a different perception of the law and for them to be able to analyse how things work. Also, to know that through sheer hard work and determination, you can make a difference. I have received so many messages of support and messages that I have inspired people, the compensation I may receive if I win this case is not important.
We live in a world that has a dark side behind closed doors and regardless of race, innocent people are being destroyed. We need a system that is more transparent or that is monitored better so judges are made accountable, and not a law unto themselves.
What advice would you give to anyone else who found themselves in a similar position to yours?
My advice to anyone that suffers discrimination in the workplace is:
1. Make HR aware of the situation ASAP
2. Seek legal advice from the Citizen’s advice bureau. Don’t be afraid to take legal action if the workplace is delaying to resolve the situation.
3. Make as many people aware of the problem as possible. Either public bodies, company share holders or media.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
I would like to thank so many people for their love and support to help me get through this. I have just found out that my application to The European Court for Human Rights was successful and the case is now open from January 2013. It’s a long road to fight for justice but we must all play our part if this world is to improve for the future generations.
Links for case:
http://thedrvibeshow.com/vibe-and-vegas-show-clive-henry/ Radio interview about the UPS racism scandal. No.1 listeners in the shows history or Google: Clive Henry UPS
www.voice-online.co.uk/article/no-special-delivery UPS Human Rights scandal in the UK’s No.1 Black News & please Google: Clive Henry UPS