A Hemel Hempstead business has lost its defence against an Employment Tribunal claim made by a former employee after it was held that the employee had been unfairly dismissed and discriminated against.
Ms Holland, a former employee of the Londis shop in Shenley Road, Hemel Hempstead, made her Employment Tribunal claim after she was sacked by the management, Mr Tarlock Singh and Mr Gurnam Singh, from her employment in November 2012 for attending a Halloween celebration. After she informed the brothers that she had attended the Halloween celebration Ms Holland claimed that she was taken outside and accused of stealing a chocolate bar and a National Lottery ticket from the store. She was then dismissed for gross misconduct.
Ms Holland, a practitioner of the Wiccan religion (and, as she is female, a “witch”), subsequently brought Employment Tribunal claims for unfair dismissal, sex discrimination and religious belief discrimination, claiming that she had not been sacked for stealing but that her dismissal was because of her religion. The claim came before the Watford Employment Tribunal in November 2013, with Ms Holland claiming that her bosses looked at her like a “leper” when they learnt that she was Wiccan. She also claimed that she had been ridiculed for her beliefs by the Singh brothers and that she had been bullied and harassed. The Employment Tribunal ruled in favour of Ms Holland, holding that she had been unfairly dismissed and discriminated against. She was awarded £15,337.12, including £6,145.44 for unfair dismissal and £9,000 for discrimination. The Employment Judge further commented that her dismissal was “indefensible” and against “the basics of natural justice”.
The Singh brothers have subsequently stated that they will appeal against the ruling of the Employment Tribunal. Gurnam Singh stated: “We had to represent ourselves. It was our first time in court, and neither of us is confident in English. We weren’t prepared at all, so the decision was bound to be negative against us.”
Chris Hadrill, an employment solicitor from Redmans, commented on the case: “Most businesses will employ experienced legal representatives to defend an Employment Tribunal claim – the Singh brothers did not do so in this instance and lost a claim which has proved expensive to them.”
Please note that Redmans Solicitors were not in any way associated with this case, nor did they represent either of the parties