Hartwell Ford Hemel Hempstead via Google Street View Aug 2020Hartwell Ford Hemel Hempstead via Google Street View Aug 2020


Former receptionist and service adviser wins £23,000 for unfair dismissal and victimisation

  • Single mum was left out of monthly ‘Pizza Friday’ lunches after bringing complaint, tribunal is told
  • Two colleagues would snub her, hearing is told, with one of them putting the phone down on her
  • Part-time worker’s eventual redundancy ruled as unfair dismissal that was sex discrimination

Time 1 month ago

A woman who was victimised at the Hartwell group of Ford and Fiat dealerships after accusing a boss of sexual discrimination then lost her job has been awarded more than £23,000 by an employment tribunal.

Malgorzata Lewicka alleged sexual discrimination against Mark Benson as well as complaining about her working hours and pay in March 2018, reported the Sun.

He was given a final written warning after a probe by Hartwell revealed that he had committed gross misconduct.

However, Miss Lewicka, who was a phone receptionist and service adviser, then found herself being excluded from informal takeaway lunches held every last Friday of the month at the Watford branch.

Managers would ask staff what they wanted, such as pizza or fish and chips, but Miss Lewicka, who was a part-time employee, said she was left out on purpose in what the tribunal labelled ‘victimisation’.

Hartwell countered that Miss Lewicka wasn’t asked as she finished work at 1pm. However, the tribunal said that wasn’t an excuse and she should have been given the option to be included in what the dealership termed ‘Pizza Friday’.

Miss Lewicka, who had worked at the Watford site since May 2014, was moved to the Hemel Hempstead branch, pictured, while the Watford dealership was rebuilt from November 2016 to April 2018.


She returned to Watford soon after the grievance procedure had ended, but whereas she was included in Pizza Friday at Hemel Hempstead, she was excluded at Watford.

She then lost her job in January 2019 when Hartwell said the role had to be full-time – hours she couldn’t do as a single mother.

Tribunal judge Jennifer Bartlett was quoted as saying: ‘We accept that the lunches may have been ad hoc and they were informal.

‘However [Miss Lewicka] gave clear evidence that at Hemel a manager went around the site taking lunch orders and that she was included.

‘However when she moved to Watford she was not asked if she wanted to order or participate whereas other colleagues were.

‘She could have been asked if she wanted to join in.’

The virtual hearing was also told that Miss Lewicka was victimised by colleagues Bridget Watson and Karen Futcher, who snubbed her.

In addition, the tribunal ruled that Watson also put the phone down ‘on many occasions’  if Miss Lewicka answered it.

The judge said the redundancy was sex discrimination as Miss Lewicka was a single mum and treated less favourably as a part-time worker because of it.

Ruling that Miss Lewicka had been unfairly dismissed, the judge awarded her £23,079, comprising loss of earnings plus damages for injury to her feelings.

Image via Google Street View

John Bowman's avatar

John has been with Car Dealer since 2013 after spending 25 years in the newspaper industry as a reporter then a sub-editor/assistant chief sub-editor on regional and national titles. John is chief sub-editor in the editorial department, working on Car Dealer, as well as handling social media.

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