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Date set in Oxford chef race case

FIGHT: Gregory Lewis has a second chance to pursue his case for racial discrimination

A BLACK chef sacked by Oxford University’s New College after allegedly being bullied out of his job has been set a date for his racial discrimination case.

Gregory Lewis, 46, will have his case heard for the second time at an employment tribunal in Reading on July 30, 2012.

The hearing is expected to last for five days.

The professionally-trained chef had worked at the renowned college for 20 years and had an exemplary record.

But when the head chef retired in 2007, Lewis was appointed acting head chef and later applied for the position, but was unsuccessful.

The role was given to an external candidate who was not even shortlisted, and despite his years of experience, Lewis was told he did not the necessary qualifications, namely a “more advanced food hygiene certificate”.

When Lewis asked if he could study for the certificate, it was agreed. But later he was told that he should try elsewhere for a head chef’s position, then reapply to New College.

To add further insult, in the interview notes from Dr Parrot, one of New College’s history dons, Lewis was described as “Mr Pangloss indeed”, a reference to an unflattering character in Voltaire’s 17th Century satirical novel Candide.

When Lewis claimed he was being racially discriminated against, he alleges he was bullied out of his job in 2009, which the college strenuously denies. Lewis was sacked for taking time off from work.

His first case was heard before an employment tribunal in Reading in 2010, and Judge Coles, who presided over the case, dismissed the racial element.

In his summing up, he said: “I still do not believe that there is a stereotypical view of black Caribbean males being lazy and stupid. They may have a more “relaxed” approach to life than other ethnic groups, but that is not in any way a derogatory assessment and in any event was not a relevant feature in this case.”

But at an appeal hearing in October, Judge McMullen QC rejected Judge Coles’ claims and the procedures of the 2010 hearing.

Speaking about the original case, Judge McMullen QC said: “Were [the witness team] smug and superior because they were above a mere chef? Or was it anything to do with the fact that he was black Caribbean?”

The new case will be heard before a freshly constituted panel.

Lewis' wife said they were feeling "optimisitic" about the new tribunal.

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