A Tesco worker who won a sex discrimination case after being trapped in a room by his female boss has been awarded £50,000 in compensation.
Toby King, who is 6ft tall, won his tribunal claim against the retailer in August. His claim centred on an incident in December 2018 where he had been shut into a room by his manager, Jo Francis, who is 5ft 4in.
He suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after an incident when he worked in the Prison Service and was held hostage, and told Francis the situation made him uncomfortable and went to open the door to leave.
However, he told the tribunal that Francis wedged her foot against the door and physically prevented him from leaving the room. CCTV footage then showed him trying to squeeze out of the door.
He claimed his supervisors said he could not be frightened by a “little pregnant woman” and refused to take his complaint seriously because of the workers’ difference in size.
In early 2019, he was signed off work after a relapse of his PTSD left him unable to leave the house without crying. He had previously taken absence due to changes in his medication and had been accused of being inflexible over Christmas shifts.
He provided managers with sick notes for his absence but Tesco claimed not to have received them, and he was asked to a disciplinary meeting, which he did not attend. He was then sacked for repeatedly not turning up to work.
Francis claimed she had become forgetful due to pregnancy-related ill health, which led to her overlooking the difficulties King suffered with PTSD.
At the tribunal hearing, Judge George said the actions amounted to sex discrimination because “her mindset was partly based upon his sex – upon him being man and not simply upon them being of different sexes”. She added that a female in the same position would not have been dismissed.
A remedy hearing ordered Tesco to pay King £47,691 in compensation, including £31,000 for injury to feelings.
Personnel Today November 2021