Lidl boss made staff go swimming with him at Center Parcs – Metro.co.uk

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A Lidl worker has won £22,000 in a sex discrimination case after complaining about her boss ‘pressurising’ female employees to swim in front of him.
Lydia Callaghan claimed Jonathan Carter, Lidl’s Regional Head of Supply Chain, had made her feel uncomfortable by holding her face and asking why she wasn’t going swimming at a work retreat.
Her complaints were initially dismissed by Lidl, despite the investigation failing to ask any of the other witnesses about the ‘unwanted physical contact’.
She took the supermarket to an employment tribunal, winning claims of sex discrimination and victimisation due to the way they handled her complaints.
The hearing was told Miss Callaghan worked for Lidl from August 2017 as an administrator and assistant team leader until she resigned in March 2019.
She alleged Mr Carter had bullied her and treated her unfairly, had discriminated against her because he ‘doubted’ her knee injury was a disability, and at a day at Centre Parcs, had harassed her by taking her face in his hand and refusing to let go.
In November 2018, Miss Callaghan submitted a written grievance to regional director Graham Clark, complaining about Mr Carter.
She wrote: ‘I feel like I have been consistently treated unfairly over the course of at least several months and had been subjected to shouting, exclusion, inappropriate offensive jokes, unwanted physical contact, intimidation, unreasonable criticism, undermining, blocking promotion, excessive workloads and non-cooperation.’
Miss Callaghan said that, after several drinks at Centre Parcs, she was having a conversation with Mr Carter and added: ‘During this conversation he held onto my face with both hands. I asked him to let go as I felt uncomfortable, yet I had to ask three times before he actually let go.
‘During the course of this evening he had also… pressed me on why I wasn’t going swimming and told me it was ridiculous to feel uncomfortable.’
Miss Callaghan also complained that Mr Carter had called a pregnant colleague ‘fat’ and she was forced to bring in a medical letter to prove to him that her knee disability was real.
The tribunal, in Bristol, heard all grievance meetings were conducted in a block approximately 500m from her workstation.
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Mr Carter has denied holding her face and denied pressurising anyone to go swimming, but admitted to calling Miss Callaghan ‘sneaky’.
He also admitted commenting on a pregnant employee’s weight as a joke, although he did not admit calling her fat, stating she ‘had not taken it the right way’ so he apologised.
Miss Callaghan also claimed that, in requiring her to walk a significant distance to a block for her grievance interview and in requiring her to travel to London for her grievance appeal interview, Lidl breached the duty to make reasonable adjustments for her disability, when they could have done it remotely.
Judge Andrew Midgley said: ‘Given the simplicity of the proposed adjustments and that they would have cost Lidl nothing, we have no hesitation in finding that it would have been reasonable for them to have been made.’
Miss Callaghan also won a claim of victimisation, after it was found Mr Carter had been ‘ignoring’ her following her grievance against him – she will be paid £20,000.
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