London

Hilton Park Lane 'did not discriminate' against staff

Comedian Richard Blackwood and his mother Juliette Giscombe
Image caption Juliette Giscombe is the mother of comedian Richard Blackwood and spent a decade at the Hilton

A leading London hotel had an "extremely diverse" group of back-room staff and was not hiding black employees from public view, a manager has told an employment tribunal.

Switchboard manager Rebecca Still rebutted claims of racial discrimination at the Hilton Park Lane by ex-telephonist Juliette Giscombe.

Ms Giscombe is also claiming constructive dismissal from her job.

But Ms Still said Ms Giscombe could be "quite volatile" and "frightening".

"At times she could be extremely good at her job," Ms Still said.

"However, at other times, if Juliette was not happy she could be difficult to manage."

She could become "quite volatile and even frightening for other members of the team if she felt frustrated", Ms Still added, and a "bad day" would sometimes lead to "outbursts".

"When this happened, I would take her out of the office to go and have a cup of tea or a cigarette to try and calm her down," she said.

'Assist and support'

Ms Giscombe, who is from Streatham in south London and is the mother of comedian Richard Blackwood, claimed the hotel did not recruit black staff to work in front-of-house positions where they would be "visible to the public".

But Ms Still told the tribunal she managed an "extremely diverse" switchboard team, including people of English, Caribbean, Iranian, Turkish and Pakistani origin.

She said managers had "tried to assist and support" Ms Giscombe throughout her decade at the hotel, "during which she suffered a number of family bereavements and had high levels of absence".

A Hilton Worldwide spokeswoman said the chain was "dedicated to being an equal-opportunities employer and we place a strong emphasis on diversity and inclusion".

"It is regretful that a team member feels they were not presented with relevant opportunities and that they were mistreated in any way.

"The case is focused on a team member who is no longer in our employment and is being rigorously defended."

The tribunal continues.

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