A student union worker was forced to quit his job after he protested his boss’s demands that celebrities of white middle-aged age be excluded from opening new buildings. An employment tribunal ruled in his favor.

Ellen Rudge was then a senior manager at University of Leicester’s Students Union. She sent an email to staff asking for recommendations for high-profile figures to help launch its new hub, The Percy Gee Building. 

In her email, the marketing manager stated that she did not want “another white middle-aged man” to open the building. She was trying to reflect diversity.

Ricardo Champayne, an HR worker, warned her that she could offend and defame certain groups by focusing on them. 

Ms Rudge complained about Mr Champayne’s response to her. Champayne was not interested in her comments and instead launched an investigation. He later resigned.

The father-of-six claimed that he was ‘victimized’ by the students’ union for calling attention to potential discrimination at an employment tribunal.

And now he has won more than £1,000 after successfully suing the SU for whistle-blowing and victimisation.

Ellen Rudge, then a senior manager at the University of Leicester's Students' Union, sent an email to staff asking for suggestions for high-profile figures to launch its new hub - the Percy Gee Building (pictured)

Ellen Rudge, then a senior manager in the University of Leicester’s Student’ Union, sent an email asking staff for suggestions for high-profile figures for the launch of its new hub, the Percy Gee Building (pictured).

A judge ruled that Mr Champayne was reasonable in concluding that Ms Rudge was discriminatory after she sent an email on February 14, 2020 to the Nottingham employment tribunal.

In her message, she stated that she was looking for suggestions for prominent public figures to approach the University to officially open the new SU/Percy Gee Building.

“I have been vocal about the need that the person reflect diversity, i.e. Not another white middle-aged man

Champayne, who had been at the SU for a short time, replied to her with: ‘Dear Ellen. I write in regards to your email seeking nomination as representative to SU.

“I have declared the matter urgently urgent. With all respect, I am bound to the personal and legal principles to object. [sic]Tone of your email

“It is not right for me to be derogatory about anyone. I want to stress that diversity can be represented in any race or class.

“I am aware that the recipients of this email may have been offended.”

Ms Rudge believed Mr Champayne was claiming she was a racist. She claimed she was’shocked, attacked’ and her ‘integrity was questioned.

Ms Rudge was upset and brought the matter to Samantha Creese (her HR and fiance manager), who ‘treated it seriously’ and launched an investigation into Mr Champayne.

Champayne had been allegedly sending inappropriate messages to female workers on social media, asking them to be friends outside work. Champayne was jointly investigated.

Ms. Rudge was permitted to continue her work even though Mr Champayne was being investigated.

Champayne sent an email to say that he was concerned that no one took any action regarding Ellen’s conduct due to the gravity of the information she sent to all staff.

SU is inclusive. Everyone is welcome, regardless sex, status, or age. Discrimination is not permitted. I will never tolerate discrimination at work.

After Ms Creese had found in favor of Ms Rudge, Mr Champayne lost his grievance against her. He resigned on March 4, 2020. Despite not having attended a disciplinary hearing, the SU said that Champayne’s behavior would have been considered gross misconduct.

Now, Rachel Broughton, Employment Judge, has ruled that Mr Champayne suffered detriments’ as a direct result of the investigation and suspension. He was also ‘intimidated’ by the grievance outcome. 

Employment Judge Rachel Broughton has ruled Mr Champayne suffered 'detriments' as a result of the investigation, suspension, and grievance outcome in which he was 'intimidated'. Pictured: The incident was at the student union at Leicester University (pictured)

Rachel Broughton, an Employment Judge, has ruled that Mr Champayne suffered detriments’ due to the investigation, suspension, grievance outcome, and in which he was ‘intimidated’. Pictured: The incident occurred at the student union of Leicester University (pictured). 

The students’ union claimed Mr Champayne’s complaint was about ‘political correctness’ and not whistle-blowing, but the judge rejected the claim.

Judge Broughton stated that his whistleblowing had ‘influenced’ students’ union to suspend him. 

The judge stated that Ms. Creese understood that Mr Champayne called her a racist.

“The tribunal concluded that Ms Rudge was upset by the protected email content and that Ms Creese took it seriously, considering it gross misconduct.

“We conclude that the allegation about discrimination was a significant factor in the decision not to suspend, the decision not to conduct a disciplinary investigation into the protected acts and to treat it grossly as misconduct.”

Champayne stated that he had lost his confidence, suffered significant damage and is now a ‘couch potato’ with less energy for his children as a result.

He was awarded £1,048 compensation.

Judge Broughton ruled that Champayne would have faced a gross misconduct probe regardless for allegedly sending inappropriate messages and engaging in sexual harassment.

In this year, the University of Leicester’s Percy Gee Building opened as the new Students’ Union.