A COLLEGE lecturer who told a fasting colleague he should hide a sandwich box under his beard has had his appeal for unfair dismissal thrown out.

An employment tribunal heard Doug Parker, who had worked as a tutor in the motor vehicle department at Blackburn College for more than 20 years, was sacked for gross misconduct in 2016.

That was after an internal misconduct hearing found he had racially harassed one colleague and intimidated others.

The tribunal in Manchester was told that during Ramadan in June 2015, Parker told colleague Usman Hussain that he did not look well.

As the conversation continued he told Mr Hussain: "You'll be all right won't you mate, you could hide a sandwich box in there."

Th hearing was told the remark was referring to Mr Hussain's beard.

On a separate occasion, Anser Yousef had been left offended after Parker, who took equality and diversity training in August 2014, made comments about his friend's skin colour.

The hearing was told the comments referenced a friend of Mr Yousef's, who was of African origin and had a tan line having just returned from holiday. The remark was said in earshot of students, although that is something Parker denied, the hearing was told.

When Parker's hours were cut in 2015, the tribunal was told Mr Yousef heard him say to his manager Ayub Moosa: "You are giving your mates the hours."

Mr Hussain also said that although Parker would support his colleagues in public meetings he would regularly mention his hours and question why they had been reduced.

Representing himself at the hearing, Parker said he had meant no offence by the tan line comment and that 'they had a discussion about a childhood friend who had a tan line and nothing else was meant by this'.

In relation to the sandwich box comment he said he had shown concern for his colleague, it was 'banter' and Mr Hussain had laughed.

Parker also denied making any comment in reference to Mr Moosa giving others preferential hours.

Under his grounds for appeal at the employment tribunal, Parker, who was a representative of the University College Union, made complaints about disciplinary procedural errors he perceived the college had made.

He claimed the college had failed to deal properly with his suspension, but tribunal judge Katherine Ross found regular contact was made with him by the college's human resources department.

He also claimed his suspension was not reviewed and was prolonged. Having been suspended on July 2, 2015, it wasn't until April 26, 2016, that the misconduct hearing took place.

But Judge Ross also rejected this claim and said that was partly due to Parker's own ill health, a bullying grievance he raised of his own and diary clashes for his full-time union representative.

Parker told the tribunal his dismissal was procedurally unfair because the complainants were not required to attend his misconduct hearing.

But Judge Ross ruled that because the college had an original written complaint and detailed minutes of investigatory interviews with the complainants it did not require them to attend the hearing, particularly because of the sensitive nature of the allegations.

Parker also claimed there was collusion between witnesses based on typographical errors found in his case bundle which referred to him as 'Dough'. That was also rejected.

Upholding the decision made by misconduct hearing chairman Jennifer Eastham, Judge Ross said she was concerned Parker had shown no remorse for the offence he had caused.

She also said Parker's remarks were made more serious because of the college's ethnically diverse make-up, with 12.95 per cent of employees and 27.62 per cent of students being of black and minority ethnicity.

Judge Ross said: "I find she took into account his unblemished service and his length of service but the length of his service concerned her in that Mr Parker did not consider his remarks, some of which he accepted he had made, inappropriate.

"In these circumstances given the ethnically diverse nature of the respondent she considered that a lesser sanction would not be appropriate and dismissal was the appropriate response.

"I am satisfied that a reasonable employer of this size and undertaking relying on the factors which Ms Eastham did was entitled to dismiss the claimant for racial harassment and intimidatory contact."