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Hartwell service advisor awarded £23,000 in sexual discrimination tribunal

A Hartwell Group service advisor who was excluded from “Pizza Friday” staff meals and later made redundant due to her childcare commitments has been awarded £23,079 in a sexual discrimination tribunal.

The Daily Mirror newspaper reported that Malgorzata Lewicka, a former employee at the group’s Ford dealerships in Watford and Hemel Hempstead, had been wrongfully dismissed after her part-time role was changed to full-time in January 2019 – leaving her unable to fulfil childcare commitments.

Her departure from the business followed months of exclusion from informal staff lunches in a “campaign of victimisation” after she filed a complaint about salary, working hours, and allegations of sexism at the Watford dealership in March 2018, after which she was issued with a final written warning.

In her evidence, Miss Lewicka said that some members of staff would also refuse to talk to her and put down the phone if she answered when they called.

Hartwell had claimed Miss Lewicka wasn't asked to partake in the staff perk because she worked part time and finished at 1pm, however the tribunal ruled this was not an excuse.

Employment Judge Jennifer Bartlett, ruling that Lewicka’s ultimate dismissal was unlawful, said: "(Miss Lewicka) as a single woman with child care commitments has suffered a disadvantage from (Hartwell's) requirement that service advisors work full-time namely she was selected for redundancy and dismissed."

On the subject of exclusion from staff lunches, Judge Bartlett said that the meals “may have been ad-hoc and were informal”, but evidence suggested she had initially included by staff ate Hemel Hempstead, before her exclusion in Watford.

"She could have been asked if she wanted to join in,” she said.

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