Tribunal victory for sacked hotel staff

26 January 2005 by
Tribunal victory for sacked hotel staff

Former employees at Brown's hotel in London were awarded £180,000 by an employment tribunal this week, after it found that owner Rocco Forte Hotels (RFH) had contravened legal obligations when it sacked all the staff in April last year.

Brown's: Rocco Forte Hotels is considering an appeal
Julie Morris, employment partner at Russell Jones & Walker, represented the employees. "This case is a salutary lesson to employers across the hotel and hospitality industry that staff must be treated fairly, according to employment law," she said. But the windfall, which works out at just over £1,500 per person, was not as much as the employees - who have yet to pick up the solicitor's undisclosed "no win, no fee" bill - might have hoped for. RFH managing director Richard Power admitted that while the company was found not to have consulted properly on the hotel's closure, it was because of a difference of interpretation in the law, and it was considering an appeal. The compensation, equivalent to a month's pay per employee, acknowledges that RFH acted with integrity because it could have been up to three months' salary per employee. "We tripped up over a legal point that was not well defined, but we do not accept the tribunal's interpretation and will consider whether to appeal. We believed we were doing the right thing," said Power. He added that RFH had tried to find the Brown's staff jobs - either within RFH, or with other employers - and would offer them jobs when the hotel reopened later this year. - A former Savoy head waiter was found guilty last week of stealing 500 items from the London hotel worth about £4,000 over 18 years. Ben Bouchtat, 54, turned his home into an Aladdin's cave by systematically pilfering silverware, cutlery, crockery, vases and other items, according to Mark Fenhalls, prosecuting at Southwark Crown Court. Bouchtat, who had denied the thefts, is on bail pending pre-sentence reports. *Source: Caterer & Hotelkeeper magazine, 27 January 2005*
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