Bar manager choked by Chef at Christmas party wins tribunal

Published: 11th December 2018

Bar manager choked by Chef at Christmas party wins tribunal

This recently reported case highlights the HR and management issues raised in Lynn’s recent video and blog …

A tribunal in Cardiff has ruled that a worker was constructively unfairly dismissed - Bar Manager Molly Phillips was choked by a colleague at a staff Christmas party on New Year’s Day 2017.  CCTV footage of the event shows Ms Phillips being held round the neck and then falling limply to the ground.

The court found that the directors’ response to the CCTV evidence was unsatisfactory.  One director denied that it showed her being choked, even though Ms Phillips had been left with a slight facial palsy caused by a lack of oxygen or nerve damage.

Molly returned to work after the incident and didn’t want to take the incident further.  However, she lost faith in her employer’s ability to keep her safe in her workplace and felt she had no option but to resign.  She claimed that a director joked with her assailant (Chef Nathan Webb) saying “All right buddy? Hear you’ve been choking girls lately”.

Judge Alison Frazer’s comments on her ruling make it clear that employer’s obligation to staff go beyond normal working hours at events such as Christmas parties: - 

“Rightly or wrongly, [Phillips] formed the view from these incidents that [Webb] had the capacity to be violent towards women. This made her believe that she had been the victim of insidious violence at the hands of Mr Webb.”

“Around this time, she also learnt that her facial paralysis was more permanent than initially anticipated. I find that this culminated in her feeling vulnerable around Mr Webb in the workplace. In my finding, there was an inextricable link between the incident at the Christmas party and the workplace, even though it had happened off duty. It was a works Christmas party held on site.”

“I find that from April [2017] onwards, Mr Davies [director] acted in a way which was dismissive of the claimant's feelings about the incident. He told her to 'get over it'.”

 

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