A 17-year-old college student has been awarded more than £18,000 in compensation by an employment tribunal after suffering sexual harassment while working at a hotel in the Rhondda Valley.
The female student was working weekend shifts as a waitress at the 43-bedroom Heritage Park hotel on 7 March 2020 on a zero-hour contract. On 7 March 2020 she entered the kitchen where a conversation of a sexual nature was taking place between colleagues and the male head chef asked her: "Would you do it for money?"
The waitress immediately felt embarrassed and uncomfortable by the comment and complained to the hotel the next day. However, she received no response. She continued to work at the hotel, but asked her manager to make sure she did not work with or have contact with the head chef.
The waitress was placed on furlough in April 2020 and was removed from the WhatsApp group used for shift allocations and was told there were no hours of work for her when the hotel reopened in August 2020, although other waitresses returned to work.
After making contact with the National Youth Advocacy Service, a formal claim for sexual harassment was made to the hotel, which is owned by MKK Hotels, in November 2020.
She told the employment tribunal that she felt let down by the hotel and had lost confidence, resulting in her finding it difficult to trust managers and others in authority. She said she was worried that the situation could happen to her again in work.
MKK Hotels provided no witness statement and did not attend the final hearing of the tribunal
The tribunal found that the head chef did engage in unwanted conduct of a sexual nature that resulted in "the effect of violating the claimant's dignity and creating an intimidating environment for the claimant to the extent that she did not want to work with him again".
The award made to the waitress totalled £18,408.82, made up of £5,877.30 in compensation, £8,000 for injury to feelings, £1,469.33 for failure to follow the ACAS code of practice, £1,809.60 for failure to provide a statement of terms and conditions and £1,252.59 in interest.
Built in 1992, the Heritage Park hotel stands on the site of the old Lewis Merthyr Colliery and has been owned by MKK Hotels since 2017. The Caterer contacted the hotel for comment.
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