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Kerry Eastman

HR Advisor - Uckfield

7th June 2021

Victimisation in the workplace

In this blog we examine a recent case example involving victimisation in the workplace where an ex-employee was awarded £23,000 after being ‘left out’ of “Pizza Friday”

Background

Miss Lewicka, a single mother, had been employed by Hartwell, a Ford dealership, in Watford since 2014. After the site closed for a rebuild in November 2016, she was transferred to the service reception desk at the Company’s Hemel Hempstead site.

In March 2018, Miss Lewicka submitted a grievance relating to pay, working hours and the behaviour of her Manager, Mark Benson, including sexual discrimination. The grievance concluded that Mr Benson had indeed committed gross misconduct and he was issued with a Final Written Warning.

In April 2018, Miss Lewicka moved back to the Watford site as a part-time service adviser. From then on, colleagues regularly put the phone down on her, ignored her at work and excluded her from “Pizza Friday”, the Company lunch held on the last Friday of every month.

In July 2018, Hartwell decided that Miss Lewicka’s role as service adviser could not be performed part-time. She disclosed to the Tribunal that she was told by an unnamed employee that “things would get awkward” if she didn’t accept a full-time position despite the fact she could not work full time due to childcare arrangements. In November 2018, Miss Lewicka was placed at risk of redundancy. She was dismissed by reason of redundancy in January 2019.

Decision – victimisation in the workplace

Despite a Hartwell manager asserting that “Pizza Fridays” were “informal and ad-hoc”, the Tribunal found that the nickname suggested regularity and Miss Lewicka’s pointed exclusion amounted to victimisation as a result of the protected disclosure made via her grievance.

The Tribunal also found that Hartwell did not make an open-minded assessment as to whether Miss Lewicka’s role could be carried out on any basis other than full time, resulting in Miss Lewicka being the only pooled employee selected for redundancy. This amounted to “less favourable treatment” on the basis of Miss Lewicka’s part-time worker status.

The Tribunal ruled that Miss Lewicka had been subjected to victimisation, indirect discrimination on the grounds of sex, less favourable treatment as a part-time worker and unfair dismissal.

Training on victimisation in the workplace

This case carries a clear message for employers. No employee should suffer a detriment, nor should they be mistreated for raising a genuine issue or concern with their employer. This applies to management and colleagues alike and may require regularly updated staff training.

Contact us

Do you need help training staff and preventing victimisation in the workplace? The GatekeeperHR team is here to help. GatekeeperHR is a fixed cost, employment law and HR retainer service which provides businesses with access to a dedicated team of experienced lawyers and HR professionals who you can speak to, or meet face-to-face, at any time.

The service includes a full HR compliance audit (which would include a full and thorough review of your policies and procedures), access to an online portal full of valuable employment law and HR resources and an annual training session on topics of your choosing. To find out more about GatekeeperHR, please contact Amy White, Partner, in Rix & Kay’s Employment Team.

Alternatively, you can browse the GatekeeperHR website, sign up for a free trial or download our brochure by visiting www.gatekeeperhr.co.uk.

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