HR advisor who was sacked for complaining about only getting three chicken nuggets for £1.99 in office canteen wins £5,000 payout
- Steven Smith, 30, had been left bereft by the paltry poultry offered for lunch
- He challenged the company dinner lady and he was sacked after she complained
- Now he has been awarded over £5,000 for chicken dinner-sparked dismissal
- Do you know or are you Steven Smith? E-mail: [email protected]
An HR advisor who said he had been left ‘shocked and disillusioned’ after getting just three chicken nuggets for lunch has been awarded over £5,000 after he was sacked for complaining.
Dissatisfied Steven Smith, 30, had been upset at the size of the £1.99 portion he was handed in the office canteen of the company support firm where he worked.
An employment tribunal heard when he queried why others were getting four or five nuggets, he said he felt ‘antagonised’ when he was told he could get three more for an extra 99p.
Mr Smith ‘advised’ the dinner lady he was not a ‘kid’ and ‘if I wanted a happy meal I would go to McDonalds’ before pushing the meal back towards her and leaving the canteen.
The woman said the incident left her stomach ‘churning’ and ‘almost afraid to come into work’.
She complained about his behaviour and Mr Smith was later sacked for gross misconduct after the company found he ‘acted violently’.
But the tribunal has concluded he was unfairly dismissed as the matter was not investigated properly by bosses and will now be awarded £5,181.60.
Mr Smith was furious after being given three chicken nuggets for his lunch (file pic)
The Glasgow hearing was told Mr Smith began working for Teleperformance Limited, a company which offers support to clients such as energy companies, in the human resources department based in Airdrie, Scotland in November 2016.
In September 2019, during a 12 hour shift Mr Smith had headed to the canteen and had asked for chicken nuggets, chips, beans and cheese.
As he saw only three pieces of meat put in a box for him, Mr Smith said ‘is that it?’ and asked why his colleagues were given four or five, the canteen worker told the panel.
The worker said Mr Smith said ‘I’m not a kid. You can keep it’ and ‘forcefully pushed the box back’ before ‘storming off’, the tribunal heard.
The canteen worker said: “I knew he was angry by his attitude and by his tone and language changed. He was not shouting but he was louder than he had previously been.
“I could tell by his face also. My stomach was churning at this.”
She then reported the incident as the kitchen staff found his behaviour ‘unreasonable’.
Mr Smith was then brought in for a disciplinary meeting to discuss the allegation that he had ‘assaulted’ a canteen assistant.
In the meeting, Mr Smith said: “I just wanted to get food and get out to go back to my job.
The Glasgow hearing was told Mr Smith began working for Teleperformance Limited
“Due to the disillusion of what was presented before me in the white box at which the food was presented in and the sheer shock of what I was presented, I showed nothing more than dissatisfaction at which said canteen lady should have offered to raise a complaint.
“However, she did not do this and instead antagonised me by stating if I wanted more I would be charged an extra £1 for 3 chicken nuggets. Due to further shock and dissatisfaction I advised if I wanted a happy meal I would go to McDonalds.
“I said the meal was supposed to be subsidised – not the portion size.
“It is not my fault that this canteen lady did [not] see or understand my dissatisfaction. She should have acknowledged my dissatisfaction and raised a complaint.
“However instead we are in this situation where I am being falsely accused, all because I have somehow offended this woman of which was not the intent as I showed dissatisfaction at which was present to me not by whom it was presented.”
Mr Smith also explained he was on medication and had been working overtime for almost 12 hours.
A second disciplinary hearing was held in October 2019 to discuss the allegation of gross misconduct in accordance with the company’s policy of ‘acting violently’
Mr Smith was then sacked because of his conduct later that month.
He later appealed this decision as he felt the canteen worker had a ‘vendetta’ against him and did not attend the appeal meeting as he did not feel well and was worried he would be ‘accused of doing something he had not’ if he came into the office.
The appeal hearing concluded that a ‘full and thorough’ investigation had taken place and Mr Smith brought a claim for unfair dismissal and wrongful dismissal/notice pay to an employment tribunal.
But the tribunal – held remotely – concluded the company’s investigation ‘fell out with the range of responses open to a reasonable employer’.
It noted he had a medical condition which causes his face to go red.
The panel, headed by employment judge David Hoey, concluded: “The company placed significant weight on the evidence given of Mr Smith’s demeanour and how they believed he had been angry, such as red faced, creating anxiety.
“Mr Smith had advised the investigator he had health issues and it was possible his complexion (and demeanour) could in some
way have been connected to his health (or indeed hunger or exasperation) rather than in a way that was adverse as was being suggested.
“The information as to Mr Smith’s demeanour was relatively brief and lacking in detail. Despite that, considerable weight was placed upon it in concluding that the claimant was guilty of the allegation.
“The sarcastic remark about a happy meal is not by itself abusive nor rude. For some the comment may have been positive depending upon their food preferences. For others it may have been negative.
“The investigation that was carried out was one that no employer acting fairly and reasonably on the facts of this case would have carried out.”
Mr Smith will be awarded £840 for unfair dismissal, £3,333.60 as compensation and £1,008 for notice pay/wrongful dismissal.
Source: Read Full Article