Woman grabbed by colleague wins unfair dismissal claim
A woman who suffered facial paralysis after being grabbed by the neck and held in a headlock by a colleague at a Christmas Party has won her claim of constructive unfair dismissal.
The judge criticised the employers for not investigating the case properly, even though incident had been captured on CCTV.
Molly Phillips worked for the Cameo Club in Cardiff. She said that at the party in 2017, chef Nathan Webb grabbed her neck and ‘strangled’ her leaving her with facial paralysis.
She returned to work afterwards and told her managers that she didn’t want to take any action. However, she became increasingly distrustful and fearful of Mr Webb. She was also being told by her doctors that her injuries would be longer lasting than she had previously thought.
She raised her concerns with senior colleagues including director Huw Davies who told her to “get over it”.
She felt the company wasn’t taking her seriously and that she had no alternative but to resign and claim constructive unfair dismissal.
She told the Employment Tribunal: “Around the end of March I was in tears to Huw telling him that I just didn’t feel comfortable in work anymore, but I was given the same response over and over, that he couldn’t ‘wave a magic wand and fix everything’.
“Meeting after meeting I was just getting that same response and nothing more.”
The tribunal ruled in her favour.
Judge Alison Frazer said: "The fact was the CCTV evidence showed that Mr Webb had her in a hold which caused her to fall to the floor.
"I find that from April onwards Mr Davies acted in a way which was dismissive of the Claimant’s feelings about the incident. He told her to ‘get over it’ when referring to the Christmas party incident."
Judge Frazer criticised the directors for not fully investigating the case. "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."
Compensation will be settled at a separate hearing if the two sides can’t reach agreement through negotiation.
Please contact Sorcha Monaghan is you would like more information about the issues raised in this article or any aspect of employment law.