Employment tribunal awards over £50,000 to young employee who was sexually harassed

An 18-year-old employee has won more than £50,000 in an employment tribunal against Lidl after her gay boss said he’d like to sleep with her and her boyfriend. The store manager regularly made inappropriate comments to staff and the employee recounted at the tribunal that he had held up a pair of knickers on sale in the store, saying to her ‘I’d bet you would look good in this.’

She challenged him and was told to “get used to it” and ‘take it as a compliment’.

The tribunal was told that within a month of working for the store, a male checkout worker moved his till next to her, asked her for her number and made comments and sexual advances through the day. A request to move was refused.  She also complained that manager pestered the employee on a daily basis, touching her on her bottom, thighs and waist and often attempting to hug her and the final straw was when the manager admitted that he found her boyfriend attractive and that he wanted to sleep with her and her boyfriend.

The employee asked to be transferred to a store with a female manager. She was told there wasn’t one nearby. After she felt forced to resign, the employment tribunal upheld her claims of sexual harassment and constructive unfair dismissal. Whilst they concluded that the store manager did not intend to cause offence through his comments because he didn’t realise that what he was saying was offensive, they stated that this reflected the culture in the store which was allowed to go unchecked. The line managers did not consider that it was their role to monitor such behaviour. They paid no attention to such complaints and “closed their eyes and ears to the culture of harassment that existed”.

The employee was awarded over £50,000.  This follows a number of high profile sexual harassment cases, and demonstrates again that managers cannot turn a blind eye to what they view as harmless banter.  Whilst employees might appear to enjoy and join in banter with sexual overtones, this type of behaviour in the workplace must be checked and managers have a responsibility to set and maintain a culture of inclusivity and equality.

 If you have any concerns regarding the culture in your workplace, or wish to consider training for your managers, please contact us at enquiries@121hrsolutions.co.uk

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