A car dealership in the U.K. is paying the price for alleged workplace discrimination.
Hartwell Ford, a franchised dealership network that operates throughout England, reportedly lost a discrimination case to a former employee who says they were excluded from monthly team lunches, Newsweek reports.
Receptionist Malgorzata Lewicka sued the dealership over the repeated snub, which occurred after she filed a sexual discrimination complaint against her boss at Hartwell Ford’s Hemel Hempstead branch in March 2018 – where she temporarily worked for two years.
When Lewicka was transferred to the dealership’s Watford branch following her complaint, she told the judge she was excluded from team lunches that were held on the last Friday of each month. Colleagues who worked in the same office would provide lunch orders for pizza and other takeout foods to management while Lewicka was routinely skipped.
Hartwell Ford is a franchised car dealership that has multiple locations throughout the U.K. The Watford branch is based in an English town that’s northwest of London. (Google Maps)
Lewicka was previously included in the monthly team lunches when she worked at the Hemel Hempstead branch, according to The Sun.
Hartwell Ford reportedly tried to defend management’s decision to exclude Lewicka by citing her part-time work schedule, which ended at 1 p.m. local time.
However, the judge for the case did not view the defense as a reasonable excuse.
Employment Judge Jennifer Bartlett allegedly said, “[Malgorzata Lewicka] could have been asked if she wanted to join in,” during a recent hearing, according to The Sun.
Employment Judge Jennifer Bartlett reportedly awarded Malgorzata Lewicka £23,000 in her lunch-based workplace discrimination case against Hartwell Ford, which is equivalent to approximately $32,000. (iStock)
The judge also determined there was sufficient evidence to show that Lewicka endured additional workplace discrimination with cut hours, pay and neglect from colleagues at the Watford branch.
By January 2019, Lewicka was let go from her role at Hartwell Ford after five years of service.
“[Lewicka] moved to Watford within weeks of the conclusion of her grievance and in the absence of any other explanation for this situation we find that her exclusion was victimization which continued until around the time of her dismissal,” Bartlett reportedly said, according to The Sun, who awarded Lewicka around $32,000 for lost wages and emotional distress.
Hartwell Ford is a franchised dealership network that operates throughout England. Ford Motor Company is an American automaker that operates on a multinational level. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)
A spokesperson for Ford of Europe says the company has a zero-tolerance policy for discrimination and harassment.