Hairdresser wins £20k after being asked to clean up dog excrement

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A hairdresser has been awarded £20,000 at an employment tribunal after her boss asked her to pick up excrement in the salon car park following revelations she was a Muslim.

Ms Bond commenced employment at Lads and Dads’ Barbers in Colwyn Bay in August 2016, where she worked regularly until February 2017, when she went on long-term sickness absence for depression and anxiety before being dismissed in July 2018.

Bond claimed salon owner Mrs Joanne Large, the respondent, and her daughter Miss Leanna Large repeatedly discriminated against her, after Bond, who is of Greek and Yemeni background, described herself as Muslim in the presence of her colleagues.

Following that disclosure the claimant said she was treated unfavourably.

On two occasion her duties were altered such that she had to remove rubbish from the salon and clean up dog excrement in the car park. Bond said she was also given shorter than usual notice of her shifts.

Then, she was not paid holiday accrued during her sickness absence, but had been filmed by employees of the salon as she walked by, which exacerbated her condition.

Bond’s manager, Miss Large, who the claimant said had become more distant and less talkative, then told her that a customer, a boy, had made anonymous allegations of improper conduct specifically against Bond. It was later established by the tribunal that the allegations could have related to another member of staff.

One customer told the tribunal that Miss Large told him that she “had recently learned that [Bond] was a Muslim and that she couldn’t have that”. Miss Large also told the customer that Bond had been “flirting with younger customers”.

A letter sent to the salon read: “My sixteen-year-old son is a regular customer of yours. On his recent visit he was seen by a 50-year-old lady who made very improper comments to him. My son was very embarrassed by this and when he told me what was said I was utterly disgusted.”

The tribunal judgment stated that because Miss Large had not attended tribunal to confirm the accuracy of her statements to a subsequent grievance investigation, the tribunal had no evidence of sufficient substance to counter the claimant’s account: “For those reasons we have concluded that Miss Large exaggerated the content of the anonymous letter”.

The judgment read: “…In the absence of any contrary evidence we find on the balance of probabilities that the direction to take out the rubbish and clean up dog excrement were acts of direct discrimination on the grounds of perceived religion.”

Bond was awarded £1000 for unlawful deduction of wages in respect to accrued holiday and £357 for failure to provide a written statement of employment particulars. Her claims of unfavourable treatment for being videoed while on sick leave were well founded, claims of direct religious discrimination for being directed to take rubbish out of the salon, clear up dog faeces, and for making an allegation of impropriety with a minor were are well founded, said judge Richard Powell.

He added: “The discriminatory conduct of the respondent led to the claimant’s disability, her extended sickness absence, her continuing ill health and aggravated an existing mental health vulnerability and the respondent is ordered to pay compensation to the claimant, in respect of injury to feelings and interest, in the gross sum of £19,352.00.”

Claims relating to the respondent’s conduct being in breach of the Acas code of disciplinary and grievance, that it failed to make reasonable adjustments, that Bond’s dismissal was unjustified and unfavourable because it arose from her disability, and Bond’s claim of direct race discrimination were not well founded and were dismissed.

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