Posh casino let wealthy customers call black staff the N-word, employee claims

A posh casino has been accused of allowing multi-millionaire gamblers to spew racist abuse at staff so they would keep spending money.

Semhar Tesfagiorgis, 41, who worked at Crown London Aspinalls, claims clients called her "stupid black girl" "blackie" and "n*****".

She told a London employment tribunal that the racism not only came from rich punters but stemmed from casino management too.

Ms Tesfagiorgis alleged black employees would be shifted out of eyesight and replaced by '"fair-skinned dealers" for customers from the Far East.

When she complained about a vile racist slur, Ms Tesfagiorgis claims a manager replied "did you expect me to turn away a million-pound punter?"

The Eritrean-born mother of two is accusing the casino of direct race and sex discrimination, indirect sex discrimination, harassment and victimisation, MailOnline reports.

After working as a croupier at Aspinalls for 13 years, Ms Tesfagiorgis took voluntary redundancy when the pandemic took its toll, but claimed black men were pretty much banned from client-facing roles.

Ms Tesfagiorgis also told the tribunal that she was repeatedly overlooked for promotion and unlike her white colleagues, she was never allowed time off for child care.

In her witness statement, she said: "On 14 Feb 2007, a wealthy patron, their biggest customer at the time called both myself and Ms Fiona Esoko, a black employee of the first respondent, a 'n*****'.

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"He was not barred from the casino despite this amounting to an egregious act of racial harassment and discrimination and being contrary to the club rules.

"Instead management pandered to the irrational and damaging whims of racist patrons and sought to excuse their conduct or blame black staff for it.

"In so doing they compounded the racist conduct and committed racist acts against myself and colleagues by such action and inaction."

Ms Tesfagiorgis claims racism was part of the casino's culture.

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She claimed: "Mr John Bruns, Casino Manager, emphatically told me and [another black employee] Selina, 'right, you two aren't going up there', upon arrival to our shift and we were both kept away for several days from a member due to that member's racist and sexist dealer preference, namely western-looking/white female dealers only.

"Thereby this entrenched attitude of enabling, accommodating and pandering to racist patrons, itself discriminatory conduct, continued to the detriment of myself and other black employees."

Ms Tesfagiorgis continued: "On 4 December 2019, a patron, Mr Pravech Rattanapian, insisted on having a 'fair-skinned dealer'.

"This was communicated via the first respondent's marketing team who then asked the front of house management to deal with the request.

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"Accordingly the request was passed on as a legitimate request and not rejected as being in contravention of the club rules or the first respondent's policies by any member of marketing or management prior to myself being on shift that day.

"The patron refused a black female dealer, Ms [Selina] Miebaka. The only other available female was me, so pandering to a racist request the first respondent arranged for white male dealers to attend to the patron instead.

"No one warned the patron of the inappropriateness of his insulting, racist request or warned him that his membership could be suspended or terminated for this prejudiced behaviour.

"Instead I was kept at arm's length and segregated from the vicinity of where this patron was gaming because I was a black woman."

When she complained, she had a meeting with managing director Michael Branson and human resources supervisor Laura Attrill, also listed as respondents at the tribunal.

She said Mr Branson said the patron's request for "fair-skinned dealers" may have been "pure superstition".

She added: "He said, 'did I expect him to turn away a million-pound punter?'"

Crown London Aspinalls, Mr Branson and Ms Atrill deny the allegations.

The tribunal continues.

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