Aspinalls Casino Ex-Worker Claims Racist Workplace, Management Denies UK Charges

Posted on: July 15, 2021, 07:43h. 

Last updated on: July 16, 2021, 09:30h.

Black employees at London’s Aspinalls gaming club worked in a racially hostile environment, a former dealer alleged during a tribunal Thursday. White players were kept away from Black workers — and Blacks were forced to hear racial slurs, she claimed.

Tesfagiorgis claimed players voiced racial slurs at her
Semhar Tesfagiorgis, a former dealer at London’s Aspinalls, pictured above. She is suing the gaming club for alleged racial and sex discrimination. (Image: The Times)

In testimony presented before the employment tribunal, Semhar Tesfagiorgis, 41, recounted how she faced racial and sex discrimination at the members-only, exclusive Aspinalls. She worked in an allegedly “hostile and demeaning environment,” The Guardian reported.

She filed a lawsuit against the gaming club. Originally from Eritrea, a country in Eastern Africa, she was employed at the casino between 2007 and 2020.

N-Word Used by Player

In her statement, Tesfagiorgis claimed players voiced racial slurs at her and at at least one other Black coworker. Among these were the “N-word,” uttered to her and another worker on Tesfagiorgis’ second day on the job, she claimed.

Blacks also were compared to gorillas, she alleges. And Black workers were called “stupid f****ng black girls,” she claims.

Aspinalls officials denied most of her allegations, The Guardian said. Aspinalls is owned by the Australia-based Crown Resorts.

But she claimed whenever she saw racism or sexism she reported it to management. She wanted the venue to address the matter “and send a clear message that it does not tolerate any form of discrimination,” Tesfagiorgis said, the newspaper reported.

Instead, there were “excuses made on behalf of the patrons in an attempt to dumb down their offensive and unlawful conduct,” The Guardian quoted her complaint.

She also claimed the casino would not ban the player who used the N-word in 2007. In 2009, the same player again used racist language, she alleged.

Also, when a player asked for a different dealer, a white male dealer was provided, she said. Then, in 2015, the casino would not let Tesfagiorgis change shifts because a player said he wanted “white female dealers only.”

In addition, in 2019, Tesfagiorgis and another employee were kept away from a player who asked for a white female dealer, she alleged. Following that incident, she was told by Michael Branson, the casino’s chief operating officer, the player’s preference  for “fair-skinned dealers” might have been “superstition,” The Guardian said.

In still another incident, Tesfagiorgis said she was told she could not have weekends off. But a white, male colleague was given his weekends off, the report said.

Tesfagiorgis’ lawyer, Shazia Khan, told The Times last year the casino’s behavior directly impacted her health and well-being.

Casino Responds

In response to her allegations, Aspinalls said the player who made the comments in 2007 and 2009 was banned by management in 2009, The Guardian said.

The casino further said Tesfagiorgis’ request for a different shift was rejected because the specific player “preferred dealers who did not interact with him,” The Guardian reported.

Also, the casino confirmed a Black dealer was removed from a gaming table in 2019. The incident was called an “error of judgment.” Later, the issue was addressed “promptly and thoroughly,” The Guardian said, quoting Aspinalls statements.