Jo Burgin loses discrimination claim against Al Jazeera

A journalist has lost her £1m employment tribunal claim against Al Jazeera English after it found that she was not discriminated against on grounds of race, sex and religion.

Jo Burgin, who was head of planning for two years until April 2007, said she was disappointed with the Central London Tribunal’s decision and claimed she had been treated “shabbily”, adding: “I do not regret pursuing this case.

“I hope my case guarantees Al Jazeera’s employees will in future be treated with dignity and respect.”

Last month’s tribunal hearing opened Al Jazeera English to a storm of criticism from witnesses who said, among other things, that it was “institutionally racist”.

Burgin was claiming more than £1m in damages saying that she was effectively sacked after her two-year contract with the broadcaster came to an end.

Former creative director Morgan Almedia told last month’s tribunal: “I believe the respondent failed in its legal duties to protect employees from a vicious crossfire of racist behaviour between the diverse cultural and racial groups.”

And Burgin told the tribunal: “Men were treated more favourably in terms of the culture of the station. Throughout the news department in those two years I was excluded because I was not male.”

But Al Jazeera denied Burgin’s claims and pointed out that in Qatar the network employed 74 women out of a staff of about 170 and that five of the six news editors were women.

Burgin’s role as head of planning involved managing the planning department in all of Al Jazeera English’s broadcast centres in Kuala Lumpur, London and Washington, and at its central hub in the Qatar capital Doha.

She brought her tribunal in London because the tribunal ruled that she performed a sufficient percentage of her work in Great Britain.

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