Grievance treated as “immature” cost a company over £15,000

A bathroom supplies company has been ordered to pay more than £15,000 by the Employment Tribunal after its director called an employee “immature” and fired her for alleging sexual harassment.

The Claimant was employed as a cost and initially worked full time before going part time on three-and-a-half days a week. She claimed that she had been subjected to sex discrimination by the owner of the business. She said the degree of his behaviour made her feel stressed about being alone with him at work.

The tribunal also heard that she had been subjected to abusive language and derogatory comments about her age and religion from other colleagues. She claimed one colleague in particular treated her as a secretary and not in the same manner as his male co-workers.

Eventually the Claimant raised a grievance and an informal investigation was held but the employee felt that she had not been sufficiently included in the decision and went home. She submitted a formal grievance the following day, in which she complained primarily about the abusive language she experienced from her colleague.

She received no response to her grievance and instead was dismissed. The owner of the business described her conduct as “immature” and said the workplace was “not a kindergarten”. She was unable to work anywhere following her dismissal as she suffered from extreme stress and anxiety for six weeks following the dismissal, recounting at tribunal that her stress levels had made her physically ill.

Podlecka lodged a tribunal claim against MYM Global in January 2018, on the basis she was dismissed because she raised a formal grievance over her co-worker’s conduct.

The Tribunal found that the conduct the Claimant was subjected to, was experienced over a period of three months. Second, it involved unwanted sexual advances, as well as abusive and derogatory treatment on a regular basis. Third, it caused physical and mental illness. Fourth, it resulted in her losing her job.

The company was ordered to pay the Claimant £10,000 for injury to feelings, with an additional 12.5% awarded for failing to comply with the Acas code and failing to respond to the claim, bringing this element of the award to £11,250. The company was asked to pay more than £15,000 in total, with other elements including notice pay, holiday pay and loss of earnings.

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