Novotel worker fired after pinging colleague's bra loses unfair dismissal case

11 June 2021 by
Novotel worker fired after pinging colleague's bra loses unfair dismissal case

A hotel worker's claim of unfair dismissal has failed after he lost his job at the Novotel Edinburgh Park over gross misconduct, including pinging the back of a colleague's bra.

Spanish national Abram Domenech joined the hotel (pictured) in October 2012 as a night shift conference team manager. He progressed to become a supervisor in 2014, a team leader in 2015 and a food and beverage manager in 2017.

On 4 November 2019 when he was working an evening shift in the hotel restaurant, he approached a female team member from behind and ‘pinged' her bra. Following the incident, she submitted a grievance against him which also included complaints of him using cultural stereotypes, unprofessional comments and making fun of her hairstyle.

She said: "For him, it was just like a joke, but for me, no".

Domenech said that he had been joking and pulling her bra was not intended as sexual harassment. He accepted that it had not been acceptable to touch her bra, agreed that it had been "an inappropriate joke" and that it might make his colleague uncomfortable working with him in the future. He accepted that she might feel embarrassed and he apologised.

His colleague also said that when he thought she was being slow in her work, he would make a comment such as, "you are so lazy, you are from Andalucía".

Domenech acknowledged that the bra incident had been a "bad mistake", but that he was "deeply hurt" by the allegations against him of bullying and harassment.

He said that he made jokes "to create a good atmosphere", including referring to himself and joking about Catalan stereotypes. He said that he used humour because it made him "more approachable". Although he accepted that his approach might have been wrong and hurtful, he denied that it was bullying.

When asked about allegations that he had made fun of her hairstyle by asking her if she "was ready for Halloween", Domenech accepted that he had said this, but not to make fun of her, although he accepted that he could have spoken to her in a more professional way.

He was suspended on 25 November 2019 and dismissed on 6 December 2019.

Domenech appealed the decision and argued that there should have been a verbal or written warning, not dismissal; however, the appeal was not upheld.

He took the hotel to court for unfair dismissal, but the judge ruled that the one act of gross misconduct, pulling on his colleague's bra, was sufficient to justify his dismissal.

Photo: Serge Cornu/

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