A male Tesco worker has received nearly £50,000 for sex discrimination, after supervisors told him that a “big man” like him could not be frightened by a “little pregnant woman”.
The employee’s manager reportedly put her foot against the door and physically prevented him from leaving the room during a discussion about overtime. He told the employment tribunal that he suffered from PTSD after he was “held hostage” while working for the Prison Service and claimed that the incident at Tesco triggered a relapse. Despite repeatedly raising concerns with senior staff members, the employee was sacked for repeatedly failing to come to work.
The employment tribunal ruled that the employee was a victim of sex discrimination because senior members of staff disregarded his case against his manager due to being taller than his manager.
Tesco was ordered to pay the employee £47,690.61 in compensation, including £31,000 for “injury to feelings”. The Judge ruled that Tesco had not sufficiently investigated the manager’s misconduct and claims of intimidation, and had subjected the male employee to harassment related to sex by dismissing him. The judge also said that a female in that situation would not have been dismissed.
This case highlights the complexity of the workplace and why those in authority should not jump to conclusions. The facts of the case may seem extreme but there are two equally serious issues – a female employee would not have been dismissed for similar behaviour and that is straightforward discrimination.
Second, employers should always consider the facts of the case they are dealing with and the reactions of the complainant before reaching conclusions of what they “think” the reaction should or could have been. Do not substitute your own views and sub-conscious bias simply because you have not bothered to investigate adequately.
If you have any questions about this, or about employment disputes in general, please get in touch.
About the author(s)
Martin Chitty helps clients to understand the balance between where they want to be as an employer, how to get there, how much it might cost and how quickly it can be done. Part of this is about understanding employment law issues, but far more is about taking those issues, forming them in to a pragmatic solution, and getting the job done.