Business News Industry People Labels & Publishers Legal

Former R&S Record employee files racial discrimination and unlawful dismissal claim

By | Published on Thursday 11 February 2021

R&S Records

Former R&S Records employee Raj Chaudhuri has filed a racial discrimination claim against the label and its co-founder Renaat Vandepapeliere with a London employment tribunal. He alleges that he was discriminated against during his time as a freelance A&R at the label and unlawfully dismissed in September last year. The label denies the claims.

Chaudhuri says that repeated attempts to “diversify the label and the artists it worked with” during his sixteen months with the company were knocked back. Some black artists he attempted to sign were dismissed as “crap” and “terrible”, according to text messages submitted as part of his case.

He says that Vandepapeliere also refused to sever ties with an R&S artist who shared anti-semitic messages on Facebook. The label boss said instead that he would “inform him of the danger” of sharing such posts and told Chaudhuri to “relax a bit”.

On another occasion, according to the tribunal filing, Vandepapeliere told Chaudhuri to stop working on a charity compilation in support of the NHS, which featured tracks by black and non-binary artists, saying: “I hate it. No talent, no quality”.

“With the benefit of hindsight”, says Chaudhuri, “I believe his hatred of that music was racially motivated”.

After being fired by the label, Chaudhuri says that he demanded payment of the remainder of the fees due under his contract term, totalling £10,000. He also said that he would go public about Vandepapeliere’s “discriminatory conduct” if the payment was withheld.

In a statement to the BBC, the label argues that the demand for payment amounted to “extortion or blackmail”, suggesting that Chaudhuri’s employment tribunal filing is therefore a malicious act.

“We have no intention of litigating this in the press and have every confidence that justice will prevail”, says the company. “We believe Mr Chaudhuri has done this in order to attack Mr Vandepapeliere in an attempt to sway him away from other legal proceedings, and cause the malicious damage that he threatened unless Mr Vandepapeliere gave into his monetary demands”.

Chaudhuri’s legal action follows accusations of racism made against Vandepapeliere last September by producer Eddington Again. Among various complaints, he told Resident Advisor that when he had brought up the label’s lack of diversity, the label boss had said that he had now “found a full pure breed black artist” to work with.

Vandepaperliere apologised for the “misunderstandings” that arose from his email exchange with Eddington, claiming that his comments had basically been lost in translation, and “in Dutch, the questionable metaphor at hand is used to express a passion for innate talent, true artistry” – a claim several Dutch readers then contacted RA to dispute.