A supermarket assistant was discriminated against when managers didn’t believe he could be intimidated by a 5ft 4in woman.
The case involved Mr T King, who is 6ft tall, and his Tesco line manager, known as JF, who was five months pregnant at the time.
King also worked for the Aylesbury Fire Service and was studying to become an electrician.
He had been asked to work extra hours over Christmas but wasn’t able to be as flexible as JF wanted. This resulted in her berating him.
She then invited him to a discussion about his attitude to working additional shifts. King was uncomfortable staying in a room with her.
He suffered from PTSD, which stemmed from an incident in which he was held hostage while working in the prison service. The Tesco managers were aware of his condition.
When he tried to leave the room, JF blocked the door with her shoulder, hands and foot. He managed to squeeze through the door, but as he was doing so, JF held on to his arm in an attempt to stop him.
His body language on the CCTV footage indicated that he was ‘increasingly anxious and borderline desperate to get out of the room’.
King complained about false imprisonment to two other managers and said that the incident was triggering his anxiety due to the incident in his previous job.
The managers ignored King’s complaint and didn’t look at the CCTV footage. One manager said he didn’t believe a heavily pregnant smaller woman would behave that way towards a taller man.
King was signed off work for a week due to his PTSD. He then spoke to a manager to say he would need more time away and would provide new sick notes.
However, the message was not passed on and King was sent a letter from Tesco saying he was absent without leave and that he must come in for a meeting.
However, his anxiety prevented him from answering the door to the postman, so he didn’t get the message.
A week later he went into the store to hand in more sick notes but was invited to a disciplinary hearing.
King revealed that he had visited A&E because his PTSD had left him feeling suicidal but was told by a manager that such feelings were ‘just stupid’.
King took legal action and the Employment Tribunal ruled in his favour.
It held that Tesco bosses had failed to consider his PTSD and had been swayed by a stereotypical view that a 6 ft man could not be intimidated by a 5 ft 4in woman.
Compensation will be decided at a remedy hearing.
Please contact us for more information about the issues raised in this article or any aspect of employment law.