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Doughnut decorator awarded £30K after being called ‘pot washer’ and ‘bear hugged’

In a recent tribunal case, Miss H M v Bugibba Independent Limited, a young worker, Miss HM, experienced harassment from a colleague, Mr OH, at Project Doughnut. After rejecting his advances, Mr OH’s behavior turned hostile, leading to derogatory remarks and an aggressive confrontation.

In the case of Miss. H M v Bugibba Independent Limited Miss HM, then 17, experienced unwanted advances from Mr OH, who ‘bear hugged’ her, threw flour at her, and pushed her against a wall, saying, “I bet your boyfriend wouldn’t like that.”

Their relationship soured after Miss HM rebuffed Mr OH, leading him to derogatorily refer to her as a ‘pot washer’ and claim she was paid less than him. Miss HM had started working as a decorator at Derby-based Project Doughnut in October 2020.

Miss HM’s role involved decorating doughnuts prepared by bakers, including Mr OH. Initially, she and Mr OH were on friendly terms, with some staff observing what they described as ‘flirty banter.’ However, the tribunal found no evidence of flirting on Miss HM’s part.

EJ Heap noted the change in Mr OH’s behaviour after Miss HM rejected his advances, concluding that his treatment of her was a result of this rejection.

In March 2021, an argument between the two led to Mr OH shouting and swearing at Miss HM, prompting her to report both incidents to her bosses. However, the company conducted a ‘woefully inadequate’ investigation and pressured her to move on.

On April 28, 2021, Miss HM was dismissed, with the company citing insufficient work. The tribunal disputed this, finding evidence that Project D was struggling to meet demand.

The tribunal upheld Miss HM’s claims of harassment and victimisation, deeming Mr OH’s behaviour ‘entirely unwanted.’ EJ Heap emphasised that nothing Miss HM did could have invited Mr OH’s advances and criticised the company’s favouritism towards Mr OH, which appeared to be an attempt to sweep the complaint under the carpet rather than properly investigate it.

Represented by her sister, Miss HM has been awarded £31,410 in compensation for harassment and victimisation.

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