Edinburgh hotel worker sacked for ‘pinging’ worker’s bra loses unfair dismissal claim

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An Edinburgh hotel worker who was sacked after he “pinged” a colleague’s bra has lost his claim of unfair dismissal.

Abram Domenech, who moved to the Capital from Barcelona nine years ago, was fired from his position as food and beverage manager at the Novotel Edinburgh Park in December 2019 following the incident, which he claimed was a school prank.

He also told the same colleague that her hairstyle made it look like she was “ready for Halloween.” In her formal grievance against him, the woman also complained about him trying to make stereotype jokes about her being “lazy” because she was from Andalucia.

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On another occasion, Mr Domenech also attempted to make a joke about a colleague with a glass eye by telling her to “keep an eye on the bar.”

The Novotel Edinburgh Park, Edinburgh. Pic: GoogleThe Novotel Edinburgh Park, Edinburgh. Pic: Google
The Novotel Edinburgh Park, Edinburgh. Pic: Google

A virtual employment tribunal held in October heard the details of Mr Domenech’s unfair dismissal claim and a decision which rejected this claim was published this week.

The report stated that Mr Domenech’s line manager said he “had an issue to understand where jokes stop” and that what was a joke to him might make his staff uncomfortable and amount to bullying.

The respondent, Edinburgh Park Hotel Ltd, maintained throughout the tribunal that Mr Domenech had been fairly dismissed for gross misconduct.

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In his appeal, Mr Domenech said the sanction should have been an informal warning instead of dismissal and that friendly jokes within his team were not meant to be offensive and included jokes against himself.

Employment judge Sandy Meiklejohn, leading the tribunal, said the claimant did recognise the seriousness of the bra incident and had expressed regret but added: “However, and fatally so far as the claim of unfair dismissal was concerned, dismissal for this act of misconduct was a reasonable response by the respondent.”

The employment judge said the respondent was wrong to treat the other matters as gross misconduct, but that one act of gross misconduct was sufficient to justify the claimant’s dismissal.

Mr Meiklejohn said he would not have classed the claimant’s conduct as bullying but accepted the bra incident could be viewed as harassment, and that the same applies to the use of Andalusian stereotypes.

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