A 6ft tall Tesco worker has won a sex discrimination case after he was trapped in a room by his ‘intimidating’ 5ft 4ins female boss, who blocked him as he tried to exit the door.
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Toby King, who suffers from PTSD, complained that his line manager Jo Francis had ‘falsely imprisoned’ him at work, reports the Metro.
But his complaint was ridiculed by other bosses, who thought ‘a big man’ couldn’t be frightened by a ‘little’ woman. A heightism/sexism double!
Mr King will now be compensated after an employment judge ruled it was clear he was not taken seriously because of his height and sex.
The incident took place back in December 2018, where Mr King was ‘berated’ on the shop floor in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, by Ms Francis for being ‘inflexible’ in the run up to Christmas.
He told the tribunal this was ‘a slap in the face’ as he had tried to be ‘as flexible as he could be’ while balancing another job and his studies to become an electrician.
Mr King was later summoned to talk with his boss, who was five months pregnant at the time, in a staff room.
During the meeting, Mr King told his line manager he felt ‘uncomfortable’ staying with her and went to ‘open the door to leave’.
Ms Francis put her ‘foot against the door’ and ‘physically prevented’ Mr King from leaving the room, an employment tribunal heard. CCTV footage from the supermarket showed Mr King squeezing himself out of the door.
The tribunal heard it was ‘consistent with him having become increasingly anxious and borderline desperate to get out of the room’.
Mr King was ‘vulnerable’ as he suffered from PTSD after being ‘held hostage’ while working for the Prison Service, and Tesco managers, including Ms Francis, knew about this.
A meeting was later held with a different manager, who ‘dismissed’ Mr King’s claims without checking CCTV because he thought a ‘pregnant woman would not have behaved that way’.
Mr King was then signed off work by his GP in February 2019 after the incident triggered a ‘relapse’ and left him unable to leave the house ‘without crying’.
Despite providing Tesco with sick notes, he was sacked after repeatedly failing to show up for work and attending a disciplinary meeting, the tribunal heard. For what it’s worth, Tesco bosses claim they did not receive his sick notes.
Employment Judge Judith George said:
Ms Francis did not think Mr King would be intimidated by her or “would take seriously” her actions in the room because he was a 6ft man and she a 5ft 4ins woman.
Her words cause us to [think] that her mindset was partly based upon his sex – upon him being a man and not simply upon them being of different sexes.
Judge George ruled Tesco had not reasonably investigated Ms Francis’ conduct and the allegations of intimidation and harassment. However, the judge also concluded Ms Francis’ actions did not amount to gross misconduct and would not justify a summary dismissal.
Huge W for Toby King then, who is now waiting for another hearing that will determine what his payout will be. Even without the element of PTSD, the actions taken by his boss that day were unreasonable. The manager shouldn’t be stopping any member of staff – PTSD or not – from physically leaving a room by wedging her foot against the door. Would this have resulted in a payout without the PTSD element? I have to think so. I mean imagine if the sexes were reversed in that scenario, and it were a 6ft tall male boss physically preventing a 5ft 4 pregnant employee from leaving his office?
How many other large companies out there are turning a blind eye to bosses being utter c*nts to their employees? It’s happening every day for sure. No doubt cases like this will give these companies food for thought.
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