£22,000 compensation for sex discrimination and victimisation due to mishandling of complaints

A former employee of a major supermarket chain alleged that the regional manager made her feel uncomfortable on a team trip by holding her face with both hands and questioning her about why she was not going swimming. 

She claims to have asked the manager three times to let go before he released her face. She left the trip two days earlier than planned due to the actions of the manager. The employee raised a grievance and cited a number of instances where the manager had made comments which made her feel uncomfortable, including that he did not think anything was wrong with her knee, when she was wearing a knee brace.  This led to the employee having to obtain a medical letter so he would stop questioning her.

The grievance was dealt with by the regional office including a director and head of HR. The manager was interviewed but denied pressuring anyone to go swimming and touching her face, but said that he had had several drinks and had invited colleagues for a “group hug” and may have put his arm around her shoulders.

The complaints were not upheld, but a letter was sent to the manager stating that he had fallen short of the standards expected of him.  The employee appealed, stating that she could not understand why the face-holding allegation had not been upheld, given that unwanted contact had been admitted. The employee resigned and submitted a claim to employment tribunal where it was suggested the instances had amounted to sex discrimination.

The tribunal also found that the company had failed to make reasonable adjustments in respect of the employee’s knee injury because the grievance and mediation meetings were held in a building 500 metres away from her desk. 

Should you have any concerns over managers’ conduct or wish to consider training for managers, contact us on enquiries@121hrsolutions.co.uk on how we can develop management competence and knowledge of handling difficult situations.

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