The case reported in the press regarding the sex discrimination of an acting manager of a fish and chip shop in Nottingham demonstrates that all business owners must make absolutely sure that their management staff are familiar with current employment law and do not discriminate against employees or candidates for any jobs advertised. A fish and chip shop in Nottingham, The Anchor, scored a spectacular own goal when the acting manager rebuffed an application from Jorge Gorman who was applying for a job taking telephone orders from customers. Jorge was shocked to be told that, despite his 15 years experience in the food and drink sector, his application would not go forward as “women are better on the phone ” for this type of work.
The blatant sex discrimination displayed by the acting manager is compounded by unwitting irony due to the fact that Jorge was born female, which completely undermines the acting manager’s thinking. He seemed unrepentant in his response on social media defending his comments, claiming that it was not discrimination but only his opinion that women were better at this particular role than men, going on to say he didn’t realise is was illegal and further posting: “In my opinion, women are better for this job. We do have men and women drive[r]s, which is absolutely fine. I believe women are better and more patient for taking takeaway orders. If you run a business you need to have the right people in the right shifts and positions. I hope it’s clear enough why. By the way, we are still looking for someone. Please, if anyone is interested you are still welcome to apply.” The acting manager appears to be oblivious of the risk he poses and the potential damage he has caused to his employer.
The horrified owner of The Anchor fish and chip shop has removed all posts relating to the blunder and confirmed that it is most certainly not the policy of the business to discriminate between men and women and that job opportunities are open to both men and women and confirms that applicants are not selected on a gender basis. He also commented that he will be doing something about the flawed, not mention illegal, thinking.
The situation that The Anchor fish and chip shop owner is now facing shows in stark terms the importance of senior members of staff having comprehensive knowledge and understanding of employment law to avoid inadvertently compromising their firm. Jorge Gorman is within his rights to raise a complaint with the Employment Tribunal which could result in a financial impact on The Anchor.
Workplace sex discrimination claims have seen the biggest rise, the Ministry of Justice figures for the first quarter of 2019 compared with the first quarter of 2018 show an increase of 69% in sex discrimination claims raised by an employee. Across all types claims initially raised by employees to be put before the Employment Tribunal, the bulk of which were disposed of without a hearing. However, 9,383 that were heard before an Employment Tribunal resulted in 8,445 successful claims for employees. Whereas employers were only able to successfully defend in 938 claims. The removal of Employment Tribunal fees in 2017 has had a significant effect on the number of cases.
Clearly it makes economic sense to train all staff in all aspects of employment law with particular attention to the question of discrimination, all types, in an attempt to avoid exposure by your staff to the potential of a Tribunal claim due to inadvertent discrimination arising from lack of knowledge.