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Casino cashier wins victimisation claim after not being invited on a staff night out

Makbool Javaid, Partner - Simons Muirhead & Burton

In the case of Ms R Leher v Aspers (Stratford City) Limited Ms Leher, who is of mixed-black African heritage, worked as a cashier at Aspers, a ‘super casino’ at Stratford Westfield Centre. It is open 24 hours a day, 364 days a year and employs around 560 staff. Ms Leher worked on the casino’s cash desk and had 22 years experience within the gaming industry having worked at other high-end establishments.

Because of her experience, which included running a betting shop at one point, Ms Leher was paid £23,500-a-year, more than any other cashier at the casino. When she resigned from her post, she was the longest-serving cashier there and had received many accolades for her work, even working on a “VIP cruise” due to her good rapport with punters.

However, Ms Leher saw many other cashiers – all of them younger – promoted above her over the years, none of whom were black or mixed heritage. Despite her experience and position, her applications for higher roles were rejected or ignored within the company.

The tribunal heard colleagues on the cash desk discussed the prospect of going to Latin American restaurant chain Las Iguanas for drinks – but Ms Leher wasn’t invited.

A tribunal report said: ‘She was the only one in the room not included’.

‘This was not a formally organised works drink, but we [the panel] all consider it was a drink among work colleagues to which Ms Leher would normally have been invited.

‘We all agree it was at the very least insensitive to discuss the arrangements in front of her when she was not invited.

‘We all conclude that this exclusion was because she had complained of discrimination.

‘While working relationships were relatively amicable, the team did not wish to socialise with someone who had complained of discrimination.

‘This was a way to make their displeasure over the complaint felt.’

Judge Moor ruled that being excluded from work drinks puts employees at a ‘disadvantage’.

Ruling on the victimisation claim, Judge Moor said: ‘We unanimously agree that being excluded from discussions at work about a social occasion amongst colleagues when one would normally be included would subject an employee to a detriment at work.

‘A reasonable employee would consider that such exclusion was to their disadvantage because they had lost the opportunity to bond with colleagues on that social occasion.

‘The occasion was sufficiently linked to work by the fact that it was amongst work colleagues and was discussed about at work and would provide the opportunity for team bonding.

‘We unanimously agree that this was because Ms Leher had complained about victimisation.’

Ms Leher won £74,113.65 in compensation for injury to feelings and loss of overtime for her successful claims of unlawful victimisation, unfair dismissal, race and age discrimination.

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