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Zero Hours Contract Workers: Injury to Feelings Award

zero hour’s contract worker who feared reporting allegations of sexual harassment by her line manager in case she lost work, has been awarded £19,500 for injury to feelings.

The recent Employment Tribunal (ET) case of Southern v Britannia Hotels Ltd and another highlights the vulnerability of zero hours contract workers. In this case Miss Southern who was aged 22 with fragile mental health claimed that her line manager frequently touched her and asked her about her sex life.

At first, Miss Southern was reluctant to raise a formal complaint, for fear that her hours would be reduced. She nevertheless brought it to the attention of another line manager who failed to take any action. 

The matter later resurfaced during a meeting with the hotel manager and Miss Southern was requested to raise a formal complaint. When the formal grievance was finally raised, the investigation that followed was hasty and not thorough or detailed; leading to the conclusion that Miss Southern had merely been a victim of ‘inappropriate behaviour’. 

Following the lodging of a claim at the employment tribunal claim, the Company re-investigated the complaint, despite it being some ten months after the original complaint was made. Ultimately it was found that there were “no conclusive evidence” of harassment taking place. Miss Southern appealed, unsuccessfully, against this decision.

The ET accepted Miss Southerns’ version of events which were corroborated by the fact that her employer:

  1. failed to follow up the initial informal complaint;
  2. failed to take action against the alleged perpetrator; and
  3. delayed completing the investigation which in any event lacked rigour and integrity.

Conclusion 

The case clearly illustrates the ET taking a bold, pro-claimant approach to injury to feelings and most importantly provides a useful reminder to employers on how not to conduct investigations into discrimination allegations.

The moral of the story is to ensure that managers treat complaints and grievance made by workers working under zero hour contracts, as seriously as those raised by employees. 

As always if I can provide you with any further assistance on queries relating to conducting investigations into discrimination allegations please do not hesitate to contact me for a free consultation on 0113 350 4030 or samira.cakali@scesolicitors.co.uk.


Please note that the information in this blog is to provide information of general interest in a summary manner and should not be construed as individual legal advice. Readers should consult with SCE Solicitors or other professional counsel before acting on the information contained here.

Samira Cakali

Samira Cakali is a pragmatic and approachable solicitor advocate with extensive contentious and non-contentious experience in the fields of employment law as well as civil litigation, within a range of commercial businesses from SME’s to multinationals as well as senior executives.

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