Sisters win Employment Tribunal discrimination claim after unfair criticism by manager

hmctsTwo young sisters who resigned from their jobs after receiving what they perceived to be unfair and aggressive criticism from their manager have succeeded in their claims for discrimination in the Employment Tribunal.

The two sisters, KO and EO, were successful in their claims for direct age discrimination and direct sex discrimination against their former employer after resigning from their jobs in 2014.

KO and EO, who were 18 and 21 when they resigned from their jobs at a service station, made the following allegations against the business owners, BG and SG:

  • That BG had told KO when she was being recruited that she would need a large uniform
  • That both KO and EO had been “berated aggressively” by SG when SG realised that food had been incorrectly labelled and that out-of-date food was being used, despite the mistakes being the fault of another employee
  • That comments were made to both KO and EO about cleaning being a “woman’s work”
  • That KO had been aggressively criticised after a single sheet of paper came loose in a ring binder
  • That EO was asked by BG after KO had left the business whether anyone else in her family is “fat like her sister”
  • That EO was made to pick up bread off the floor and that this bread was later served to customers
  • That KO was required to serve stale bread to customers
  • That BG and SG had made comments about both KO and EO in front of customers, including comments that “she doesn’t have a clue what she is doing” and “she always forgets to do that”

Both KO and EO also made allegations that their treatment in general by BG and SG during the course of their employment had been unfair, and that they had been treated unequally to other employees. They claimed in particular that they had been subjected to unjustified criticism in front of customers, including the above-listed comments that “she doesn’t have a clue what she is doing” and “she always forgets to do that”.

KO and EO brought claims for direct age and direct sex discrimination, alleging that older employees and/or male employees did not or would not have received the same treatment as them.

The Employment Tribunal found in KO and EO’s favour in their claims for direct age discrimination and direct sex discrimination. The Tribunal held that, for example, the reaction to a loose sheet in a ring binder was disproportionate and would not have been made to an older woman or man (and therefore constituted age and sex discrimination) and that the comments about cleaning being a “woman’s work” were related to KO and EO’s gender and discriminatory.

The Employment Tribunal ordered that BG and SG repay the sisters’ Tribunal fees (which amounted to £2,400). A remedy hearing will be heard at a later date in order to determine how much compensation the two claimants will receive.

Chris Hadrill, a specialist employment solicitor at Redmans, commented on the claim: “Business owners should put in place policies which forbid discriminatory or harassing conduct of employees. If such policies are put in place then the business may avoid liability for a discrimination or harassment claim if one of its employees discriminates against or harasses another person.”

A full transcript of the case can be found at XpertHR