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R&S Records welcomes tribunal ruling after dispute with former consultant

By | Published on Monday 9 May 2022

R&S Records

The co-founder of R&S Records has welcomed a recent employment tribunal judgement in the UK that dismissed a claim made by a former freelance A&R at the independent label.

That freelancer, Raj Chaudhuri, last year accused R&S and its co-founder Renaat Vandepapeliere of racial discrimination and unlawful dismissal, having parted company with the record label in September 2020.

In his legal claim, Chaudhuri said that his efforts to “diversify the label and the artists it worked with” had been hindered by Vandepapeliere knocking back many of the black artists he wanted to sign, knock-backs which – he had concluded – were “racially motivated”.

After being dismissed by the label, Chaudhuri also sought payment of fees he reckoned were still due under his contract, which totalled £10,000.

In response to Chaudhuri’s legal action, R&S told reporters at the time that its former team member had threatened to go public about Vandepapeliere’s alleged “discriminatory conduct” if the label didn’t pay up what he thought he was owed. That threat, it then claimed, amounted to “extortion or blackmail”, and Chaudhuri’s subsequent employment tribunal filing was therefore a malicious act.

A label spokesperson then added: “We have no intention of litigating this in the press and have every confidence that justice will prevail. 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”.

In a new statement this morning, the label announced that all the claims submitted to the employment tribunal by Chaudhuri were dismissed last month following a two day hearing in March.

It added that the judge hearing the case concluded that – as a freelance A&R for R&S – Chaudhuri was not, in fact, an actual employee of the label. Meanwhile, R&S mainly stopped working with Chaudhuri because of disagreements regarding the future direction of the business.

The basis of Chaudhuri’s claim for £10,000 in unpaid fees was “unclear”, but his threats to publish an open letter about the label if they weren’t paid concerned the court, it went on.

Meanwhile, his decision to go public about the employment tribunal claim while that claim was ‘sub judice’ – so under judicial consideration and therefore prohibited from public discussion – possibly meant that the media which reported on the legal proceedings were in contempt of court.

The label also added that following the dismissal of the employment tribunal case in the UK, the authorities in R&S’s home country of Belgium are now investigating a possible prosecution against Chaudhuri over the alleged blackmail.

Commenting on the recent judgement, Vandepapeliere himself told reporters: “I am delighted that the tribunal has dismissed all three claims brought by Raj Chaudhuri. Given our label’s roster of artists, his allegations of racial discrimination always looked like a cover for his unwarranted demands for money”.

“This last two years has been absolute hell for me and my partner Sabine, my family and the artists on our record label”, he added. “My artistic policy for R&S Records has always been inclusive and Raj Chaudhuri knew that. He also knew that allegations of racism would have a devastating impact on me and my business. We would like to personally thank our loyal friends, fans and artists who have remained supportive throughout these very difficult times”.

“Differences of opinion over music and artistic direction in a record label are one thing”, he went on, “but to falsely label them as racism or racial inequality is wrong; it undermines the very fabric of tackling racism and makes a mockery of those who are genuinely fighting inequality”.

“Dance music has always been about uniting people through the commonality and love of electronic music, regardless of ethnicity, colour, religion or sexuality”, he concluded. “I have always been a champion and supporter of original artists. Signing an artist is about their talents; the music they make and produce – it’s what the label stands for. As the tribunal judge found, my priority is, ‘the integrity of the music R&S Records produced’”.