£30,000 award for ‘banter’

 

A supermarket employee has been awarded £30,000 at an employment tribunal after a judge found he was discriminated against on the grounds of his gender, and his employer failed to take his bullying claims seriously.

At the tribunal the claimant stated that a man would have been “sacked on the spot” if they experienced the same thing as him, having been kicked and kneed twice by a female colleague. The tribunal heard that the perpetrator kicked him in the rear but the claimant did not initially report it as he was confident that it would not happen again. However, just a week later he was kicked again. After complaining to his manager no action was taken for several months, making him feel like his complaint wasn’t being taken seriously. He concluded that the whole situation would have been dealt with faster had he not been male.

The perpetrator claimed however that the two had a “playful” relationship and that no harm was intended from her actions. The employer took the view of the woman and dismissed the grievance and the later appeal.

The employment judge stated that this was not simply an “unjustified sense of grievance” and concluded that the employee was entitled to feel that his welfare and safety were not being taken seriously by the employer. The judge ruled that the grievance had been ‘mismanaged’. The core element of the complaint – that if the employee been a woman, his complaints would have been dealt with differently, was not taken seriously.

The tribunal awarded £29,465 compensation, including £18,500 for injury to feelings.

Harassment in the workplace is often disguised as ‘banter’. There might be a genuine misunderstanding between colleagues about what is an acceptable way to treat each other, but intentional bullying must not be disguised as ‘banter’. It is important to look out for the differences in these various interactions and how they are received.  121 HR Solutions can assist with training for managers. Contact us at enquiries@121hrsolutions.co.uk and we can discuss.

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