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In the case of Minchella v Hotbox London Limited t/a Chuck Burgers (in liquidation) ET/3201167/2017 the Employment Tribunal held that Ms Minchella had been subjected to direct sex discrimination, sexual harassment, and unlawful deduction from wages.

The facts in Minchella v Hotbox London Limited t/a Chuck Burgers (in liquidation)

Ms Minchella worked for Hotbox London Limited t/a Chuck Burgers (“Hotbox”), a restaurant, as a waitress.

On 18 June 2017 a colleague of Ms Minchella’s, “Zino”, asked her “how many kids do you want to have?” and, when Ms Minchella replied “none”, Zino stated to her “any women who doesn’t have kids is not a real woman”. He also stated “all guys have kids” and that if Ms Minchella ever found true love, that the man would sleep with Ms Minchella until he got bored and eventually leave her for some younger in order to make babies with her.

Ms Minchella complained to the restaurant’s general manager on 18 June 2017 and asked for her grievance to be dealt with immediately and professionally. She stated that Zino had laughed, smiled, and tried to hug her by way of apology. Ms Minchella followed her grievance up on 25, 28, and 29 June 2017 and had sent emails on 30 June, 5 July and 18 July 2017 requesting a reply and update on her grievance.

On 28 July 2017 Ms Minchella was sent a letter stating that she was at risk of redundancy and she was informed by letter on 30 July 2017 that she had in fact been made redundant. Her dismissal took place on 30 July 2017. Ms Minchella was upset and concerned that, unlike other male colleagues, she had only been given two days’ notice of her redundancy and that other male employees had been retained whereas she had not.

Ms Minchella subsequently issued Employment Tribunal claims for direct age discrimination, direct sex discrimination, and unlawful deduction from wages, arguing that the following conduct constituted discrimination:

  • Zino’s comments on 18 June 2017
  • Hotbox’s failure to promptly or adequately investigate her complaints
  • Her dismissal for the reason of redundancy, which she contended was handled differently and less favourably than the way her male colleagues had been treated

 

The decision of the Employment Tribunal in Minchella v Hotbox London Limited t/a Chuck Burgers (in liquidation)

Hotbox, which is in liquidation, did not submit a defence to Ms Minchella’s claims and nor did the liquidators.

The Employment Tribunal upheld Ms Minchella’s claims for direct age discrimination, direct sex discrimination, and unlawful deduction from wages. The Tribunal held that the following conduct constituted discrimination:

  • Zino’s comments on 18 June 2017
  • Hotbox’s failure to promptly or adequately investigate her complaints
  • Her dismissal for the reason of redundancy, which she contended was handled differently and less favourably than the way her male colleagues had been treated

The Tribunal awarded Ms Minchella £8,000 as compensation for injury to feelings, as well as loss of earnings of £581.25. The Tribunal also awarded her interest on these sums of £228.96 and compensation for unlawful deduction from wages of £183.60.

 

Our solicitors’ view on Minchella v Hotbox London Limited t/a Chuck Burgers (in liquidation)

Chris Hadrill, a specialist employment solicitor at Redmans, commented on the case: “Employers should be careful to thoroughly and promptly investigate complaints from employees, and particularly so where an employee is alleging that they have been bullied, harassed or discriminated against by a colleague – a failure to do so could, as it did here, result in a successful claim for discrimination being made by the relevant employee”

The judgment of the Employment Tribunal can be found here

About

Redmans Employment Team deal with employment matters for both employers and employees, including drafting employment contracts and policies, advising employers and employees on compromise agreements, handling day-to-day HR issues, advising on restructures, and handling Employment Tribunal cases for both employers and employees Call 020 3397 3603 to speak to one of the members of our employment team or email us on enquiries@redmans.co.uk.

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