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Hotel chef awarded £80K in sexual harassment claim after manager sang Victoria Wood’s ‘Ballad of Barry and Freda (Let’s Do It)’ while making “disconcerting gestures”

Unusual case of workplace harassment as a hotel general manager’s rendition of a popular song leads to a legal battle. Uncover the details of the chef’s allegations and the tribunal’s ruling, highlighting the importance of workplace dignity and respect.

In the case of Mr S N v SBH Windermere Limited (1) Mr A Wilson (2) the general manager of the Windermere Manor hotel harassed his head chef by singing Victoria Wood’s the ‘Ballad of Barry and Freda (Let’s Do It)’ while making “disconcerting gestures”, an employment tribunal has found.

The tribunal heard that Mr AW had sung the song, in which a wife propositions her reluctant husband, placing emphasis on the repeated refrain “let’s do it”, while attempting to make eye contact with chef Mr S N.

Mr AW had told the tribunal he sang the song after the actor and comedian came up in conversation and the chef revealed he had not heard it before.

However, Employment Judge Phil Allen found the chef to be the more credible witness.

The chef, who said he had been “excited” to join the hotel in 2021, made a number of allegations about Mr AW spanning the period up until his resignation in July 2022.

He said Mr AW would hug him and that these hugs became “more frequent and long” as time went on.

He also accused Mr AW of squeezing his knee while driving him home and said he had also placed a hand on his bottom, caressed his nipple and massaged his back and shoulders before hugging him, kissing him on the forehead and saying, ‘I love you’.

These complaints were upheld by the tribunal.

In his judgement Allen wrote: “Singing the song and singing it in the way which it has been found he did, was considered in the context of the other harassment which the tribunal found had occurred.

“The tribunal accepted that the song, and what was emphasised in it, took on a very different tone in the light of the events which the tribunal found had occurred.

“It was clear from [the chef’s] evidence that the song being sung to him in that way with the relevant emphasis had the effect of violating the claimant’s dignity and creating a degrading, humiliating and offensive environment for him.”

Mr SN was awarded £34,000 compensation for injury to feelings and damages of £35,656.

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