In a recent case in front of an Employment Tribunal, an employee slapped a harassment and victimisation lawsuit on her employer. She claimed her boss called her fat and stated that he only wanted slim and smart girls in the office. The Tribunal in Glasgow sided with her, after going over the evidence, and said the employer created a “degrading working environment”.
What Exactly Happened?
Ms Aishah Zaman, the claimant, began working for Knightsbridge Furnishing Limited on 01 July 2018 as an office assistant. Within a short time in her employed role, she was promoted to Office Manager, with no increase in pay.
At the time, she was reporting to Mr Shahzad Younas, the director of the company. Between July 2018 till the middle of 2020, Mr Younas spent the majority of his time in Pakistan. However, he was handling the business via Skype, WhatsApp and the CCTV in the office.
One of the first incidents that happened was a text message exchange between Ms Zaman and Mr Younas. The messages from Mr Younas implied that Ms Zaman was a great cleaner and he wanted her to clean his flat. Ms Zaman also reported incidents where Mr Younas would often ask only female employees where his dinner/lunch was. She further added that he made it seem that he can ask anything of them because he pays their wages.
On 2 November 2018, Mr Younas messaged Ms Zaman on WhatsApp calling her “fatty” in Punjabi (translated to “Motee”). He told her that she should join the same gym as him, as he wants her to be “slim and smart”. He added, “boss also wants slim smart girls in the office”.
Ms Zaman was also working as a local DJ during her employment under Mr Younas, and it was her job for almost 8 years. Upon telling him that she quit her DJ job, he commented that DJing was the “work of prostitutes”.
There were many such incidents during the time of her employment, where Mr Younas made unnecessary comments and inappropriate demands. However, April 2020 was one of the final major incidents that led to Ms Zaman’s dismissal and thereafter, her claim in front of the Glasgow ET.
In April 2020, Mr Younas asked another female employee, Ms Sheik, to instruct Ms Zaman to reconstruct her office. She refused to do it alone stating she is busy and added that she would ask other male colleagues to help her. This led to Mr Younas badmouthing Ms Zaman calling her a “pain in the a**”. He started yelling at her and as a result of the yelling, spat in her face as well. Shortly after this incident, Mr Younas asked her to leave and eventually sold the business.
Sometime between April and August 2020, Ms Zaman was informed that she had been dismissed. Plus, there were allegations of her stealing more than £17K from the company.
What The Employment Tribunal Said
The claim was brought to the Glasgow Employment Tribunal which found that Ms Zaman was made to work in an offensive and humiliating environment. Hearing that Mr Younas was asking female employees to cook, clean and pack his bags, they found he had an outdated image of women. It was this image that cause him to create an environment which was not healthy for anyone.
Moreover, they found that Ms Zaman was a target of many sexual and inappropriate comments made by Mr Younas. These comments and the environment she worked in made it difficult for her to do her job. Knightsbridge Furnishing and Mr Younas were ordered to pay a little over £18K as compensation.
You can read more about the case here