Woman sacked after claiming her boss was inappropriate wins claim

Woman sacked after claiming her boss was inappropriate wins claim

06/23/2022

Bar worker who was sacked over Facebook post claiming her ‘creepy boss’ asked staff for a ‘threesome’ and bought underage girls drinks wins claim for unfair dismissal

  • Damaris Trench was fired after liking and sharing a post from her boyfriend 
  • The Facebook post made a series of claims against the owner of the student bar
  • But she is now in line to receive compensation after an employment tribunal ruled she had been unfairly dismissed, as she hadn’t acted ‘vindictively’

A bar worker who was sacked over a Facebook post claiming her ‘creepy boss’ asked staff for a ‘threesome’ and bought underage girls drinks has won a claim for unfair dismissal.

Damaris Trench was fired after liking and sharing a post on social media from her boyfriend, which made a series of claims against the owner of the student bar where she had worked, an employment tribunal heard. 

The post alleged ‘wildly inappropriate’ owner Himesh Patel had tried to kiss female staff, asked one for a ‘threesome’ and ‘creeped’ on underage girls at the Trebles bar in Lincoln.

Miss Trench was sacked for liking and sharing partner Dan Sargeant’s post on Facebook and Snapchat – despite deleting it hours later and apologising.

But she is now in line to receive compensation after an employment tribunal ruled she had been unfairly dismissed, because she had not acted ‘vindictively’ and the bar did not have a social media policy for staff.

The tribunal in Nottingham heard Miss Trench began working at Trebles in November 2018.

Damaris Trench (pictured) was fired after liking and sharing a post on social media from her boyfriend, which made a series of claims against the owner of the student bar where she had worked, an employment tribunal heard

Mr Patel visited ‘most days’ both as owner and as a customer, the hearing was told.

The panel heard Miss Trench’s boyfriend, Mr Sargeant, also worked at the bar but resigned in October 2020.

He had been accused of drinking on shift and being repeatedly late for work, and chose to resign instead of facing disciplinary action.

However, following his resignation, Mr Sargeant wrote a lengthy and scathing post on Facebook criticising Mr Patel and his ‘wildly inappropriate’ behaviour.

The post, initially shared on the Overheard at University of Lincoln Facebook page, read: ‘Trebles is a messed up place. I’ve worked there over a year until tonight.

‘The owner Himish Patel is a creepy and wildly inappropriate man.

‘He has made countless creepy comments to most of the female staff including asking a member of staff who still works there if he could have a threesome with her.

‘He came in drinking one night and tried to kiss a member of staff, she had to stop him 3 times before he finally fucked off.

‘These are just a couple of the many times he’s acted like this with staff.’

Mr Sargeant also alleged that Mr Patel regularly ‘creeped’ on tables of girls – some of whom were said to be underage – and would ‘tell them he’s the owner’ and ‘buy them drinks’.

The post further accused owner Mr Patel of having ‘no interest’ in his staff wellbeing, saying he ‘cut corners’ in providing PPE equipment, didn’t follow Covid safety procedures and didn’t give staff breaks after seven hour shifts.

Moderators removed the original post from the Overheard Facebook group, but Mr Sargeant shared it again on his personal profile.

The tribunal was told Miss Trench then shared the post on her Facebook and Snapchat accounts, to help ‘spread awareness’ about Mr Patel’s behaviour.

An hour or two later she deleted the posts – but not before her managers at Trebles had seen them.

Miss Trench was invited to a meeting the following day, during which managers accused her of supporting defamatory statements made about the bar, such as the mention of Trebles being ‘messed up’.

The young bar worker argued she had been supporting allegations made against Mr Patel as opposed to the bar, and said she wished to make a complaint about Mr Patel’s behaviour.

The Facebook post alleged ‘wildly inappropriate’ owner Himesh Patel had tried to kiss female staff, asked one for a ‘threesome’ and ‘creeped’ on underage girls at the Trebles bar in Lincoln (pictured)

But she was suspended at the end of the meeting and no investigation into her complaints was carried out.

Miss Trench was sacked at the end of October – just six days after sharing the Facebook post – for gross misconduct as the bar claimed it was ‘detrimental to our business’

However, Employment Judge Kirsty Ayre ruled Miss Trench’s behaviour fell below this threshold – especially seeing as there was no existent social media policy for her to have adhered to.

Judge Ayre said: ‘Miss Trench’s behaviour was not gross misconduct.

‘Trebles had no social media or disciplinary policy warning employees that the behaviour engaged in by Miss Trench is even a disciplinary issue.

‘There was no evidence of any previous misconduct by Miss Trench. She took the Facebook post down very quickly and apologised for it.

‘She clearly had insight into what she’d done and that it had the potential to damage Trebles.

‘She did not write the post and was not acting vindictively or deliberately to damage [the bar]’s interests. She made a mistake, for which she paid.

‘No reasonable employer would, in our view, have dismissed in these circumstances.’

Miss Trench’s claims of unfair dismissal succeeded, and a remedy hearing to decide upon how much compensation Trebles owner Performance Bar Limited will have to pay will be held in due course.

Her other complaints of automatic unfair dismissal and victimisation failed.

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