Want to talk to an expert employment law solicitor?

You'll receive a callback from a specialist within an hour

In the case of Terraneo v Whitbread Group plc ET/3401249/15 the Employment Tribunal held that an employee had been unfairly dismissed and discriminated against because of her age by, among other things, her employer’s failure to carry out an investigation into her grievance.

Ms Terraneo commenced employment with Whitbread Group plc (“Whitbread”) in August 1996. Her job title was “breakfast supervisor”. Unlike managers or team leaders, Ms Terraneo was not required to wear an apron.

From 2011 onwards Ms Terraneo received a number of warnings for various acts of alleged misconduct, including smoking in front of the restaurant and breaching health and safety rules. She was given a written warning. She also received warnings for her performance levels, a failure to carry out reasonable management instructions, and rude behaviour towards guests, employees or suppliers.

At the end of 2014 Ms Terraneo was twice caught smoking in prohibited areas. She was summoned to a disciplinary hearing on 8 January 2015 and summarily dismissed for gross misconduct. Ms Terraneo appealed this decision and was successful, with the sanction reduced to a final written warning. Ms Terraneo was sent a letter on 11 February 2015 confirming this.

A “return to work” meeting was held on 23 February 2015 at which Ms Terraneo lodged claims for bullying, vexatious allegations made against her, and age discrimination in relation to being unsupported at work and bullied because of her age.

On 4 March 2015 Ms Terraneo returned to work. Upon her return to work Ms Terraneo found that she was now required to wear an apron, that her hours of work had been reduced from 42 hours per week to 28.5 hours per week, and that her shift had been altered to start an hour later, although no-one had told her this. Ms Terraneo refused to wear the apron because it was dirty and that she had never been required to wear one peviously.

At the end of the shift on 4 March 2015 Ms Terraneo was called to a meeting with her line manager, Ms Bongiovani. Mr Silvera was also in attendance at this meeting. In this meeting Ms Terraneo was given a letter suspending her pending an investigation. There was apparently a heated altercation at this meeting and Ms Terraneo was told by Mr Silvera that “there is no room for you in this establishment, get out, get out”.

On 5 March 2015 Ms Terraneo resigned from her employment with immediate effect, with the following being stated as reason: underhand and vexatious disciplinary treatment; what had occurred on 4 March 2015; being demoted; and a general lost of trust and confidence in management. She also asserted that these reasons constituted age discrimination.

On 6 March 2015 Ms Kinsman was appointed to handle Ms Terraneo’s complaint dated 23 February 2015. This investigation was not completed properly and there was no investigation into any of the allegations of discrimination or bullying. Mr Kinsman’s decision was to reject Ms Terraneo’s complaint and she appealed. However, no appeal process was ever commenced by Whitbread.

Ms Terraneo brought claims in the Employment Tribunal for constructive dismissal, wrongful dismissal, direct age discrimination, harassment, and victimisation.

The Employment Tribunal upheld part of Ms Terraneo’s claim for age discrimination, finding that there was evidence of a culture of age discrimination at Whitbread and that there was no explanation for the failure to undertake a proper investigation into Ms Terraneo’s grievance. The Tribunal also found that the events of 4 March 2015 were engineered to force Ms Terraneo out of her job because of her age and found that the events of that day therefore constituted harassment on the grounds of age. The Employment Tribunal rejected, however, Ms Terraneo’s claims that she was disciplined for smoking because of her age, holding that Whitbread’s management applied a uniform policy on this issue. It also rejected Ms Terraneo’s claim of victimisation, finding that although she had made a protected disclosure (her written grievance handed in on 23 February 2015) Ms Terraneo could not point to any facts to show that she had been subjected to any detriment because of her complaint.

Chris Hadrill, a specialist employment solicitor at Redmans, commented on the case: “It is important for businesses to properly and fairly investigate complaints made by employees and this is particularly the case where the employee is making a complaint of discrimination – a failure to investigate such allegations or to produce a reasonable and fair outcome may feed into further allegations of discrimination.”

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. Redmans have offices in Richmond, Chiswick, Hammersmith, Fulham, Kingston, Wimbledon, Ealing, Kings Cross and Marylebone (meetings strictly by appointment only).

Want to talk to an expert employment law solicitor?

You'll receive a callback from a specialist within an hour

Share →

Our awards

Request a callback

    Your first name (required)

    Your last name (required)

    Your email (required)

    Your telephone number (required)

    Brief details of your enquiry

    Testimonials

    4.80 Average

    346 Reviews

    Anonymous

    I dealt with Chris Hadrill who was very knowledgeable and professional. To provide some context, I raised a grievance with my Employer and with the help of Redmans received a settlement offer. I have secured alternative employment and would recommend Redmans overall. I was very satisfied with the service I received and would rate it as 5 star.

    Posted 7 hours ago

    Danielle T

    I contacted Redmans in regards to a situation I needed dealing with with my employer. This was resolved within a week of initial contact and I couldn’t be happier. Both Chris and Sacha were brilliant and couldn’t have been more helpful! Thanks guys!

    Posted 1 day ago

    Anonymous

    Quick proccessing of my Redundancy agreement.

    Posted 4 days ago

    Anonymous

    Fantastic support during a difficult time! Chris was fantastic, from the first conversation all the way through a difficult process. Chris supported me with a settlement agreement and his counsel was invaluable. The company I worked for tried to suggest some solicitors that they knew would simply rush through an agreement. Thankfully I found Chris and the Redmans team, what a relief! They fought for me and allowed me to keep my focus on the next stage in my career journey. If I go through anything similar in the future Redmans will be my first point of call!

    Posted 5 days ago

    Anonymous

    Quick responses to all inquiries. Supportive and provided top-notch service. Extremely pleased with the outcome and would recommend to anyone in need of legal advise.

    Posted 6 days ago

    Ben H

    Good, quick and informative service.

    Posted 1 week ago

    Edward W

    I liked Mel Chin's approach to my inctruction. She provided clear advice and explained things in a manner that I understand. I rated her service 5 out of 5.

    Posted 1 week ago

    James B

    Great and prompt service- would recommend and use again!

    Posted 1 week ago

    Emma L

    Excellent service. From start the team where efficient and helpful, the whole process was made easy on a very stressful and upsetting situation. They worked well to support my situation and negotiate. Would highly recommend. Thank you to Chris, Sacha and the team.

    Posted 1 week ago

    Brian H

    I must say, not seeing any of you and doing all on-line works very well. Very pleased with the service and would recommend you. Fantastic service. Many thanks Brian Haines

    Posted 1 week ago

    Sheenu A

    Professionals with excellent quality of work.

    Posted 2 weeks ago

    Maris T

    I recommend Redman's Solicitors. Chris was very helpful and informative. He provided a speedy and efficient service at a reasonable price.

    Posted 3 weeks ago

    Anonymous

    quick response, friendly staff, my issue was smoothly done. superb

    Posted 4 weeks ago

    Anonymous

    Overall I was very satisfied with the service I received. Right from making initial contact to being contacted by Chris Hadrill. He was easy to talk to, friendly and professional and gave sound advice. I would certainly use Redman's again. Thank you for all your help, Chris. I would rate my experience as 5 star.

    Posted 1 month ago

    Jane K

    4 stars for quality of advise. the team are good but it feels rushed sometimes and hard to contact.

    Posted 1 month ago

    Arabella B

    I am so grateful to Caroline Lewis at Redmans Solicitor’s for helping me with my Unfair Dismissal Case. I was seriously impressed how easy Redmans made the whole case, and am very happy with my Settlement. I have recommended your firm to at least 5 people in the last 3 months.. Thank you Caroline and everyone at Redmans. You are Brilliant .

    Posted 1 month ago

    Anonymous

    Highly professional and efficient service.

    Posted 1 month ago

    Tanya T

    I had the pleasure of Chris and Sacha’s experience with a work matter. They made me feel at ease with the process and explained everything thoroughly. Would happily recommend Redmans especially Chris and use them if needed I’m the future. Thank you!

    Posted 1 month ago

    Anonymous

    I used the services of Redmans solicitors and was a quick outstanding service I engaged them in a settlement agreement after been made redundant extremely professional at all that was done and would definetly use them again

    Posted 1 month ago

    Adrian A

    Spot on support, enough to get the matter at hand sorted. No beating around the bush, no nonsense - got the job done and we all moved on.

    Posted 1 month ago

    Mark Q

    Five Stars I was most impressed by the attention, courtesy, speed and above all, professionalism in dealing with my Settlement Agreement. I would certainly have no problem in recommending this firm to anyone in need of their services.

    Posted 1 month ago