The firm in charge of all Bradford's schools has been found guilty of racial discrimination against one of its workers.

A six-day tribunal in Leeds found that Serco Ltd, operator of Education Bradford, racially discriminated against one of its project managers Richmond Quarshie, who is Afro-Caribbean.

The damning 55 page judgement also found senior bosses of the private firm, including the former managing director of Education Bradford Mark Pattison, had racially discriminated against Mr Quarshie.

Education Bradford's former director of change Ian Irving, Serco's head of employment relations John Whitefoot, Education Bradford's human resources manager Stephen Pearce, and Education Bradford's operations director Steve Humphreys were also found to have racially discriminated against the claimant.

The judgement said: "Specifically, in relation to the particular matters complained of, we find that Mr Quarshie was discriminated against by Mr Irving by imposing a pay cut on him whilst he was suspended; by Mr Whitefoot and Mr Pearce by allowing his suspension to continue for an excessive period; by Mr Pattison, Mr Humphreys and Mr Pearce by refusing Mr Quarshie an appeal on his grievance; and by Mr Whitefoot and Mr Humphreys over the length of time which it took them to process his grievance."

A number of Mr Quarshie's other complaints were dismissed.

Mr Quarshie, who lived in Bradford for 13 years before moving to Huddersfield, said: "I am happy with the judgement on one level but also seriously concerned. It is not only a concern to me as an individual but also in terms of what we are trying to achieve in Bradford in race relations.

"If one of the major employers in the district is behaving in this way, what signal does it send out to other employers? If they can treat 'one of their own' in this way what consideration or care do they have for our learners - a significant proportion of which come from the Afro-Caribbean community - including our children.

He added: "The whole experience has had serious consequences on me and my quality of life to the point that the only thing I had in terms of dignity was to ensure I fought for what was right - in this case racial justice. Racial discrimination does not equate with educational achievement."

Mr Quarshie had worked for Bradford Council's Education Department and then Education Bradford for a total of 17 years.

A spokesperson for Serco said: "We will seek to learn from its findings concerning those complaints which have been found against Serco, which in our view, are process-related issues and not racism-related issues.

"The issues on which the tribunal found against Serco relate to a period at the beginning of the contract when processes were still being established.

"We are confident that none of the individuals named are racist but, even in the best of organisations, there are occasions when processes or systems are not properly developed and may not be properly applied.

"This we believe is what has led to these difficulties. These processes have been fully reviewed and amended since the events occurred. Our policies are now effectively applied to ensure that none of our employees are disadvantaged in any way."

The firm has taken legal advice on appealing the decision.

Mark Pattison left Serco in April

to work as chief executive in charge

of national education strategies

for Capita Strategic Education Services - the private firm which will work for the Department for Education and Skills (DfES). Ian Irving left in May 2003.

Steve Humphreys and Stephen Pearce still work for Education Bradford and John Whitefoot still works for Serco Group Ltd.

Serco refused to say whether any action will be taken against them.

A remedy hearing will be held in the future to look at any possible settlement for Mr Quarshie.