Pizza Hut whistleblowers who complained about sexual harassment when a manager said a young woman’s nipples were ‘like cut diamonds’ were wrongly sacked, tribunal rules
- Kailam Fearn, 27, and Sian Murphy, 28, were dismissed for gross misconduct
- Ms Murphy said she was sexually harassed by manager Rhys Stephens
Two whistleblowers who spoke up about sexual harassment at Pizza Hut were wrongly sacked, a tribunal has ruled.
Kailam Fearn, 27, and Sian Murphy, 28, were dismissed for gross misconduct after they complained about the behaviour of two members of management.
But the pair have both won battles over their unfair sacking – and will be paid compensation by the pizza franchise.
Ms Murphy told the tribunal she was sexually harassed manager by Rhys Stephens at the pizza base in Neath, South Wales.
The tribunal heard he remarked that her nipples were ‘like cut diamonds’ when she went into the refrigerated room at the restaurant.
He also said ‘she shouldn’t bend down like that in front of men’ when she picked something off the floor.
Manager Mr Stephens claimed his comments were ‘jokes and banter’ – but he was also accused of using homophobic slurs against a gay colleague.
Sian Murphy told the tribunal she was sexually harassed by manager Rhys Stephens at the pizza base in Neath, South Wales
Kailam Fearn, 27, was informed that he was being dismissed for gross misconduct for stealing food, leaving the store unattended and using his personal mobile phone
Colleague Mr Fearn worked at the neighbouring Port Talbot store run by the same franchise company and claimed the manager told him he had ‘sexy legs’.
He told the Cardiff tribunal how he was sent a Snapchat photo from area manager Dean Green in the bath watching the store’s CCTV on his mobile phone.
It was claimed Mr Green also told Mr Fearn he had ‘sexy legs’ and asked if he wanted a threesome.
Mr Green referred to a transgender staff member as ‘it’ and called a foreign-born employee Barry, saying he had ‘no obligation to learn how to say his real name,’ the tribunal heard.
The tribunal ruled franchise owners Salamaan and Javeria Rasul of S&J Enterprises Wales Ltd did not reprimand either manager and ‘simply accepted their denial of events’.
It also ruled that neither Mr Fearn nor Ms Murphy, both of nearby Resolven, had been given proper employment contracts and that Ms Murphy was wrongfully dismissed for gross misconduct.
Stealing, poor performance and breaching social media policy were the reasons given by management, the tribunal heard.
But Ms Murphy had proof she paid for a bottle of water she was accused of taking and her poor performance amounted to selling an out-of-date salad to a customer.
Mr Fearn was informed that he was being dismissed for gross misconduct for stealing food, leaving the store unattended and using his personal mobile phone.
He was suspended from his duties as a special constable during an eight-month police investigation, which cleared him of any wrongdoing and the tribunal heard he was ‘traumatised’ by the experience.
Ms Murphy described having a ‘massive sense of relief’ at the result after enduring ‘many sleepless nights and lots of tears and stress’
Mr Fearn said he hoped their case ‘will go some way to help other people who might be in a similar situation’
Tribunal chairman Samantha Moore said Salamaan and Javeria Rasul made the false allegations in ‘retaliation’ for Mr Fearn pursuing them for unfair dismissal.
The tribunal found that both complaints about wrongful dismissal and sexual harassment were successful.
Ms Murphy described having a ‘massive sense of relief’ at the result after enduring ‘many sleepless nights and lots of tears and stress’.
Mr Fearn said he hoped their case ‘will go some way to help other people who might be in a similar situation, to show them what rights they have and that it’s always worth looking for help’.
A Pizza Hut UK and Europe spokesperson said: ‘We are aware of the outcome of the tribunal regarding franchisee S&J Enterprises Wales Limited.
‘We take these incidents very seriously and have strict processes in place that we expect all our franchisees to follow, however with the appropriate authorities involved, we will not be commenting further.’
Their compensation will be decided in another hearing next year.
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