Receptionist wins £23k after boss excluded her from office ‘pizza Friday’ order

A receptionist has won £23,000 after she was left out of the monthly office pizza order.

A tribunal described the incident as part of a 'campaign of victimisation', and the employment judge ruled that single mum Malgorzata Lewicka was deliberately left out by bosses who did not include her in the informal staff lunch.

Staff at Hartwell, a Ford car dealership, would be asked for their takeaway order by managers once a month, which could include pizza, fish and chips or other fast food, the Mirror reports.

But Miss Lewicka told the hearing she wasn't asked for her order on purpose, in events that unravelled after she accused a member of staff of sexual discrimination.

In March 2018, she submitted a complaint about her pay, working hours and alleged sexual discrimination.

Following an investigation, the tribunal heard that Hartwell found the member of staff had committed gross misconduct and was issued with a final written warning.

After this, Miss Lewicka told the tribunal that she was then excluded from the company lunch, held on the last Friday of every month.

She told the hearing that “other employees were asked but she was not asked if she wanted to order food or participate”.

Hartwell had claimed Mss Lewicka wasn't asked because she worked part time and finished at 1pm – but the tribunal ruled this wasn’t an excuse.

The tribunal also heard that Miss Lewicka was victimised by her colleagues who wouldn’t speak to her or put the phone down if she answered their call.

In January 2019 she was made redundant after the company said that the role she performed had to be full time.

Judge Bartlett ruled that this amounted to sex discrimination because she was a single mother and received less favourable treatment as a part-time worker as a result.

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Miss Lewicka worked for Hartwell in Watford from May 2014 but was moved to the company's site in Hemel Hempstead while the Watford dealership underwent a rebuild between November 2016 and April 2018.

The tribunal heard she was excluded from "Pizza Friday" in the Watford branch and complained about sexual discrimination in the Hemel Hempstead store.

Employment Judge Jennifer Bartlett ruled: "We accept that the lunches may have been ad hoc and they were informal.

“However [Miss Lewicka] gave clear evidence that at Hemel a manager went around the site taking lunch orders and that she was included.

"However when she moved to Watford she was not asked if she wanted to order or participate whereas other colleagues were. She could have been asked if she wanted to join in.”

She added: "[Miss Lewicka] as a single woman with child care commitments has suffered a disadvantage from [Hartwell's] requirement that Service Advisors work full-time namely she was selected for redundancy and dismissed."

Miss Lewicka was awarded £23,079 including compensation for injury to feelings as well as loss of earnings.

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