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Worker sacked over claims he refused to speak English

A car worker from Birmingham has taken legal action after alleging he was sacked for snubbing an email ordering staff to speak English. Photo: PA

A car worker from Birmingham has taken legal action after alleging he was sacked for snubbing a company email ordering staff to speak English.

Raj Rangla, who speaks fluent English and Punjabi, claims he was given his marching orders for failing to co-operate with the edict from Trust Group UK, based in Aston.

An employment tribunal heard the ruling was made because some employees felt “excluded” during conversations by staff speaking in their native languages.

Mr Rangla, from Great Barr, denies he regarded the email instruction as a joke.

He has made legal claims for unfair dismissal and race discrimination.

“I read the email and followed the instructions about speaking English at all times,” he told the Birmingham hearing.

“I had a good working relationship with most of the staff but believe these allegations have been instigated against me.

“The management wanted to get me out.”

Mr Rangla, who dealt with customers over repairs and servicing, added:“I was not given a reason for my dismissal and, when told to attend a meeting with the management, I was not informed that it was going to be a disciplinary hearing.”

Miss Claire Thompson, representing the company, explained that the email instruction was issued because some of the 30-strong workforce felt “disadvantaged” by colleagues speaking in a different language.

“Some complained to the management that they felt excluded,” she told tribunal judge Miss Sheila Woffenden.

Miss Thompson alleged that Mr Rangla “made light” of the email and failed to follow the instruction.

“You made a joke of it,” she told Mr Rangla.

The tribunal was told that Mr Rangla was expected to talk to customers in their mother tongue, but not colleagues. Some complained that he was not complying with the rules.

“The management did not think he was a model employee,” added Miss Thompson.

Miss Woffenden described the email as “robust” and said it appeared there had been no warning that those who breached the instruction might be dismissed.

After a two-day hearing Miss Woffenden said she would make a decision at a later date.

The firm has several branches throughout the Midlands.

A spokesman for the Aston branch said: “This is a private matter and, at this stage, we are not prepared to comment.”