Pizza Hut sexual harassment case – schoolgirl awarded £16k

A 17-year old schoolgirl who was working as a receptionist at Pizza Hut Delivery in East London was awarded £15,800 after making a claim of sexual harassment at the employment tribunal.

The Hornchurch branch, which was run by Kash PH hired the girl in June 2016. In February 2017 a new manager was introduced. Sultan Tanha would try to hold the girl's hand even when she tried to move away. Tanha would come up behind the girl and whisper in her ear. When the girl challenged him as to why he was standing so close, he would reply that she was crowding him.

When it became apparent to Tanha that his advances were being rejected, he would shout at the girl and continually find fault with her work.

In May 2017 Tanha hugged the girl in what she described as a sexual manner, with his hands around her waist in the region of her hips. He looked her up and down and then walked away. After that, the girl stated that she was singled out, had shifts cancelled at short notice, and told not to talk to other staff members.

The tribunal found that Tanha's actions were unwanted conduct of a sexual nature. His actions had created an atmosphere that was humiliating, intimidating and hostile for the girl. This was particularly relevant given her age, that she was still at school, and this was her first job.

Employment judge Catrin Lewis stated that she was satisfied that the girl would not have been treated this way had she been male. The treatment was directly related to the fact that she was female and also because she had rejected Tanha's unwanted advances.

Lewis went on to say that they had found the claimant credible. In cases where there is conflict between the claimant and the respondent the tribunal preferred the evidence of the claimant.

Additionally, the respondent's witnesses were inconsistent in their evidence between what they had said at a first interview and what they said in a cross examination. On the balance of probability, the claimant was awarded the case.

Lewis stated that there was not enough evidence to claim for sexual harassment, although she awarded £13,000 for injury to feelings. A further 15% was awarded because the business failed to handle the grievance in a satisfactory way, with further compensation being added for interest and loss of earnings.

The judge concluded by saying that the investigation was defective in that it did not address the points raised by the claimant. Neither did it respond to any of her complaints.

Pizza Hut commented that Mr Tanha no longer worked for the company. Pizza Hut works to maintain the safety and well-being of all their staff and do not condone that sort of behaviour. They are working closely with the franchisee to ensure that in the future correct policies and procedures are followed.

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