Lab worker sues for sex discrimination after boss told him to 'man up'

Male lab worker sues for sexual discrimination after his female boss allegedly ‘told him to MAN UP over moving boxes and that she doesn’t hire men because they are less organised’

  • Lab worker Daniel Price claims he was told men are ‘less organised’ than women 
  • He claims manager said: ‘You’re a man and you don’t need to be listening to this’
  • He is bringing a sex discrimination case against boss at PiQ Laboratories, Wales 

A lab worker has been allowed to bring a sexual discrimination case after his female boss allegedly told him to ‘man up,’ over moving some boxes, and told him she ‘doesn’t hire men because they are less organised’.

Daniel Price says he suffered ‘extreme discrimination,’ at PiQ Laboratories in Ebbw Vale, Wales, which became a ‘toxic environment,’ after he was allegedly frozen out of conversations on several occasions.

He alleges that lab manager Ashleigh Knowles told him he was ‘lucky,’ to have a job, as he was a man.

On one occasion, he claims she told him: ‘You’re a man and you don’t need to be listening to this’.

He says that a catalogue of incidents between June 2019 and May last year at the food testing lab in Ebbw Vale, South Wales amounted to an: ‘Extreme discrimination against males within the workplace, leading to a toxic work environment for myself.’

Daniel Price is suing PiQ Laboratories for sexual discrimination as he claims work became a ‘toxic environment,’ after he was allegedly frozen out of conversations and told he was ‘lucky’ to have a job at the food testing lab

The employment tribunal at Cardiff heard that discussing a new appointment, Ms Knowles said: ‘It will more than likely be a girl because women tend to be better and more organised in the lab.’

She then allegedly told Mr Price: ‘You are lucky to have your job because everyone was shocked that it was a guy being employed – we normally only employ females because men are less organised.’

Mr Price said on one occasion he was asked by Miss Knowles to carry boxes that had been delivered ‘because you’re a man.’

Ashleigh Knowles, lab manager at PiQ Laboratories, allegedly told Mr Price ‘we normally only employ females because men are less organised.’ He also claims Ms Knowles told him to ‘man up,’ when he complained about moving boxes

Another time when he challenged her that the tasks should not lie solely with him because he was male she threatened him with disciplinary action over his alleged insubordination, he claims.

On 29 October 2019 he received a WhatsApp from her talking about a visit from a colleague from another branch in which she said: ‘Use an extra set of hands when you can* He could always move boxes too’, the tribunal was told.

On 16 March 2020 he refused to move boxes as he was suffering from a hernia but was told by Miss Knowles: ‘Man up and get on with it, it’s only a few boxes.’

He claims she went on to tell other staff members that he had refused which led to a ‘tense’ work environment.

At one point when he tried to enter a room and Miss Knowles was talking to a colleague, he claims she told him: ‘Go back to work, we are talking in here.’

Two months later on 22 November 2019 as he tried to enter the office again he alleges Miss Knowles told him: ‘Go away, we are talking about woman stuff’.

He says he replied: ‘It’s ok, I have three sisters and I’m used to it’ to which she replied: ‘No, you’re a man and you don’t need to be listening to this.’

Again in January last year as he tried to enter the office he said that Debbie Powell, who was talking to Miss Knowles and another woman told him: ‘You should leave, this conversation doesn’t involve you.’

Mr Price was dismissed from PiQ Laboratories last May. A claim of unfair dismissal was thrown out as he had not been at the company for the requisite two years, starting in January 2019

Undeterred he stayed, but described the atmosphere as ‘tense’ as he did his work and nobody else talked.

Lastly, on May 26 last year he was allegedly told by Miss Knowles as he tried to enter the office: ‘This conversation isn’t for you to hear, girls only’.

Two days later he was dismissed. 

A claim of unfair dismissal was thrown out as he had not been at the company for the requisite two years, starting in January 2019.

Allowing the sex discrimination claim to proceed, Employment Judge Rachel Harfield said in her judgement on the hearing earlier this month: ‘In my judgment, the claimant’s case is sufficiently arguable…[and] it should proceed to a full hearing.

‘It is for the tribunal at that full hearing to hear all the evidence and then decide whether the alleged acts happened and their context.’ 

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