Parking warden says he was sacked for having a golly key ring
Mike Bower, 52 worked as a Civil Enforcement Officer in Bury from March last year but says he was fired in December.
A complaint was made against him after the key ring was found hanging from his locker at the depot of firm NSL, who provide parking services on behalf of Bury council.
He claims it must have fallen from his keys and been put there by a colleague.
But Mike, who lives in Radcliffe, Bury, and has been married for 14 years, was suspended in early December and was informed he was being sacked on Christmas Eve.
The company say his dismissal also related to a Facebook comment which referenced a fellow staff member and a “a serious act of discourtesy towards a colleague.”
The firm said the incidents breached their diversity and communications policies.
He appealed the decision but was unsuccessful.
It is understood all staff had already been spoken to in October regarding previous allegations of racism and bullying.
And a letter informing him of the outcome of his appeal said: “...to introduce this (the key ring) into the workplace in these circumstances could be construed as best naive and poor judgment and at worst as provocative.”
Mr Bower, who has previously lived in Canada and Greece, has now hit out at the ‘disgusting’ decision and says he intends to take legal action for unfair dismissal.
He said: “I’m absolutely disgusted. There is nothing offensive about it, it is just a key ring.
“I told them that but by the end of the day I’d been suspended.
“Now I’ve ended up losing my job over it.
“The matter is with my solicitors and I intend to fight it all the way.”
The golly was a children’s literary character created by Florence Kate Upton in the late 19th century, and was inspired by a minstrel doll.
The doll was adopted as a mascot by the jam manufacturer Robertson’s in 1910, but was dropped in 2001 following accusations of racism.
However Mr Bower denied the item having any racial overtones.
He said he had contacted numerous organisations including the leader of Bury council Mike Connolly, the Home Office, his local MP Ivan Lewis and the Human Rights Commission about his case.
He has also contacted the key ring manufactures themselves who he says told him it was not offensive and that the item was ‘one of their bestsellers.’
He said: “I used to have one of the dolls as a child.
“I bought the key ring at a car boot sale because it was big and it would stop me losing my motorbike keys.
“I had a Scooby Doo one which was similar.
“Someone has decided to make it racial, which is completely wrong.”
A spokeswoman for NSL said: “We can confirm that a CEO was dismissed from his employment with NSL on 23 December 2013.“The grounds for dismissal involve breaches of the NSL Diversity Policy, the NSL Communications Policy, and for committing a serious act of discourtesy toward a fellow colleague.
“An appeal was recently held, which upheld the dismissal.”