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Security guard wins discrimination case when manager repeatedly calls her ‘honey’

An employment tribunal awarded £10,000 to a security guard who had her hours reduced, was denied the ability to take her holiday and was repeatedly called ‘honey’ by her manager.

The award was based on sexual harassment, direct sex discrimination and unfair dismissal.

Peta Jessemey worked for Lodge Services as part-time store detective in several Superdrug stores in Essex and Suffolk.

After manager Rod Tolmie behaved repeatedly in a sexist manner to her, Ms Jessemey complained to her superiors. Tolmie talked over her and indicated that male guards would do a better job than she would.

Tolmie further refused to authorise the holidays which Ms Jessemey and other part-time staff were entitled to receive.

The claimant left the company in 2014. Originally her claim was denied at the tribunal due to non-payment of fees, although she reapplied for her case to be heard after the fees were ruled unlawful.

In 2012 Ms Jessemey was transferred to Lodge Services through a Tupe transfer because the company had taken over the Superdrug contract. She was also contracted to be paid an additional hour per day due to the time that it took her to travel to Clacton or Ipswich.

On raising this issue with Tolmie, she was accused of fraud and told that her travel time would not be paid. Any complaints to HR and Tolmie would report her to the police.

The tribunal agreed that Tolmie regularly calling Ms Jessemey ‘honey’ was directly replated to gender. He also behaved in a disdainful way after she had been assaulted while working. Tolmie said that a male guard would have done a better job than she did and was better suited to the role.

The tribunal also found that the company did nor process the complaints made by Ms Jessemey.

Martin Warren, employment judge, stated that addressing women as ‘honey’ is not only patronising but degrading and demeaning. Mr Tolmie did not address men as ‘honey’ which made it clearly related to gender.

 Mr Tolmie’s tendency to talk over women employees and his habit of paying less or no regard to what they were saying were also related to gender.

Mr Tolmie paid a visit to the claimant’s place of work in 2014 to carry out a performance review. Ms Jessemey told him that she wanted to be a trainer to which he replied that she was not good enough.

Tolmie went on to say that it was a good thing she did not aspire to manager as she did not have the right skill set, she would be no good as a trainer and her aspirations were ambitious.

Ms Jessemey told the tribunal that Tolmie visited some of the stores where she worked so that he could convince her colleagues that a male security guard would perform better than she would.

While employed her hours were cut from 24 hours per week to 12 per week. The tribunal ruled this as constructive unfair dismissal, even though Ms Jessemey had resigned from the position.

The ruling of direct discrimination was based on Tolmie’s attitude towards women.

Other part-time staff and Ms Jessemey were told to swap shifts so that they could go on holiday, rather than book time off. Although Tolmie said that this would mean they received a payment at the end of the year in lieu of time off, they were never paid.

The tribunal ruled this as unlawful and a breach of contract.

The respondent was ordered to pay Ms Jessemey a total of £10,906.22 compensation. This included holiday pay, injury to feelings, travel pay, travel expenses to attend a job interview, loss of statutory rights, loss of earnings and a basic amount for unfair dismissal.

A Superdrug spokesperson stated that they were aware of the settlement from Lodge Services to a worker employed by them. Superdrug had ceased to work with Lodge Services in 2016.

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