The Scottish health secretary and his wife have launched legal action against a nursery accused of discriminating against their daughter.
Humza Yousaf and Nadia El-Nakla have accused Little Scholars Day Nursery in Broughty Ferry, Dundee, of refusing two-year-old Amal a place because of her race or religion.
The couple are demanding a public apology and damages to be paid to an anti-racism charity.
Their Lawyer, Aamer Anwar, has also requested that the Equality and Human Rights Commission investigate the nursery and consider whether enforcement action is possible.
The nursery denied the accusations that came to light last week following an investigation by Nadia, who applied for a position in the nursery under a number of different names.
She claims the nursery’s responses differed depending on how ‘Muslim or Asian’ the name sounded.
It is alleged that children with ‘Muslim or Asian sounding’ names were refused a place while three children with ‘white or non-Muslim sounding’ names were all offered a position at the nursery.
Anwar confirmed legal action on Tuesday.
He said: “I have been instructed by Nadia El-Nakla to begin legal proceedings against Little Scholars Day Nursery, Broughty Ferry, Dundee.
“On Monday, August 9, 2021, my office served papers on the nursery and its company director, Usha Fowdar, to intimate a claim in respect of a breach of the Equality Act 2010.
“It is alleged in the served notice that Nadia El-Nakla and her two-year old daughter Amal were subjected to direct discrimination in breach of Section 29, Part 3 and Schedules 2 and 3 of the Equality Act 2010. The Act makes it unlawful to discriminate against a person when providing a service, which includes the provision of goods and facilities.
“The nursery has been provided with evidence of direct discrimination on the grounds of race and/or religion and to date it has failed to provide any reasonable explanation for its actions to Amal’s parents.
“The Nursery has been given 14 days (until 12pm August 23, 2021) to provide full settlement proposals, a public apology and compensation to be paid to an anti-racist charity of our client’s choosing or court action will be raised at Dundee Sheriff Court.”
The lawyer also commented on racist abuse directed at the Holyrood minister on social media.
He said: “As the family’s lawyer I have been left horrified at the tirade of racist abuse directed at Humza Yousaf and his wife Nadia for speaking out.
“They have done what is natural to any loving mother and father, they tried to protect their child. These social media trolls bring shame on a Scotland, where we are continually told we are all Jock Tamson’s bairns.”
Nadia El-Nakla and Humza Yousaf stated: “Despite being given ample opportunity, Little Scholars Day Nursery in Broughty Ferry have failed to admit, explain or apologise for their discriminatory behaviour.
“We have both stood against hatred our whole lives, often being the targets of vile abuse. We will not accept our children being discriminated against by anyone.
“Like any other parents we simply want our children to be treated equally, regardless of their colour of skin or religion.
“We strongly believe we have evidence of systemic discrimination being carried out by Little Scholars Day Nursery. As passionate believers in the fairness of Scotland’s justice system, we have now instructed our solicitor, Aamer Anwar, to initiate court proceedings and are determined to fight for justice for our daughter.”
A spokesperson for Little Scholars said: “We have received correspondence from a solicitor acting for Mr Yousaf and Ms El-Nakla and will respond in due course.
“Little Scholars is extremely proud of being open and inclusive to all and we are deeply saddened that anyone would think otherwise. Our owners are themselves of Asian heritage, and for more than a decade we have regularly welcomed both children and staff from a range of different religious, cultural, ethnic and racial backgrounds.”
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