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Lidl worker wins £50,000 in sexual harassment tribunal after boss banter

An eighteen year old supermarket worker experienced repeated sexual harassment while employed at Lidl

A Lidl supermarket worker won £50,884 in a sexual harassment claim after her manager made a slew of inappropriate comments which she was told to ‘take as a compliment.’

Maddie Hunter was 18 years old when she began working at a Lidl branch in Wallingford, Oxfordshire in 2019.

A month later, a male co-worker moved his till next to her, asked her for her number and made comments and sexual advances.

Hunter asked to move tills but a manager denied the request and told her to 'take it as a compliment', the tribunal heard.

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She told the tribunal that deputy store manager, Michael Harding, pestered her on a daily basis, touching her on her bottom, thighs and waist and often attempting to hug her. 

He also made a number of sexual comments including that he would like to sleep with her and her boyfriend and that she would ‘look good’ in a pair of knickers she was sorting through.

But after complaining about her treatment she was told again by the store manager to take it as a compliment.

Hunter asked to be transferred to a store with a female manager but was told there wasn't one nearby.

She eventually resigned in 2021 after being told by a manager she needed to have a 'performance discussion' for being late, despite regularly working unpaid extra hours.

The tribunal upheld her claims of sexual harassment and constructive unfair dismissal.

Emma Burroughs, an associate at law Collyer Bristow, said the case highlights the importance of an effective harassment policy. 

Speaking to HR magazine, she said: “If an employer can show they took all reasonable steps to prevent harassment taking place, it is likely to have a much better chance of successfully defending a sexual harassment claim.

“Reasonable steps include a robust procedure that is discussed with employees with a clear reporting mechanism and a zero-tolerance approach.

“Also, anti-harassment and equal opportunities training that is refreshed – a one off session is not going to cut it.”

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She added that the Worker Protection Bill, which is currently going through parliament, would introduce a specific duty on employers to take all reasonable steps to prevent the sexual harassment of their employees.

She added: “Under the Bill, if the employer is found wanting in this regard, the Tribunal could increase the compensation fee by 25%. And it is not uncommon for compensation in these types of claims to already be six figures.”