What was the case?

The claimant was employed as a telephone receptionist at a Ford car dealership from 6 May 2014 until she was made redundant on 2 January 2019.  She had worked between two sites during her time with the Company.

On 9 March 2018, she submitted a grievance relating to pay, working hours and the behaviour of her manager.  She claimed to suffer sex discrimination over a period of 6 months.  The tribunal could not look into these claims as they were out of time.  The internal process meant her manager was issued with a final written warning.

After the claimant had raised the grievance, she told the tribunal that the site managers had excluded her from lunch.  When had worked at a different site, she was included despite finishing at 1pm but at this specific site other employees were asked, and she wasn’t.  The Tribunal were informed by a manager that the pizza Friday lunches were informal, ad hoc and had no specific date and that the claimant wasn’t included as all colleagues took lunch between 1pm and 2pm.  However, the tribunal found the nickname ‘pizza Friday’ suggested regularity and that her exclusion was victimisation that took place around the time of her dismissal.   The tribunal also found that two employees would not speak to the claimant as a result of the grievance she made against her manager.

In July 2018, the company decided that the claimant’s role should be carried out full-time, but it didn’t take account of her personal circumstances as a single mother with caring responsibilities.  Evidence showed that she was told ‘things would get awkward’ if she didn’t accept a full-time position.  By November 2018, she was placed at risk of redundancy.  She was not offered any alternative work between November 2018 and her dismissal on 2 January 2019.

What were the tribunal’s findings?

The tribunal found that the claimant was subjected to victimisation, indirect discrimination on the grounds of sex, less favourable treatment as a part-time worker and unfair dismissal.

In relation to the redundancy, the tribunal found that the company had not made an open-minded assessment of whether the role could be carried out on any other basis other than full-time.  The claimant was therefore, the only part-time employee pooled and selected for redundancy, which made her treatment ‘less favourable than a comparable full-time worker.’  It was therefore, found that the redundancy selection process was unfair as no alternatives were considered and she was the only part-time employee pooled.

What does this mean for employers?

Ensure you consider the following:

  • A policy is in place for dealing with complaints
  • Complaints are dealt with seriously
  • You have a policy for bullying and harassment and training is carried out
  • Ensure employees understand the terms ‘discrimination’ and ‘victimisation’
  • Consistency is applied in the workplace where possible
  • Consider alternatives to full time work such as job share
  • During a redundancy process ensure fair selection of pooled employees – seek advice