Asda apologises as worker awarded £62k after resigning in tears following racial harassment

Asda has apologised and been ordered to pay £62,000 to a woman who was subjected to racial discrimination while working at its Accrington store. An employment tribunal judge ruled that Svitlana Henderson was targeted due to her nationality and ultimately was constructively unfairly dismissed from her role.

A claim of ‘direct discrimination’ due to race, however, was unsuccessful. According to Judge Jennifer Ainscough’s ruling, the harassment was carried out by two managers and that the majority of the offending behaviour took place behind closed doors. Ms Henderson, who is from Ukraine, worked with Asda for 15 years, with the majority of that time spend at the Blackburn store.

She transferred to Accrington in 2013 but towards the end of her employment faced a “lengthy campaign of harassment” over a period of 14 months until she walked out on May 8, 2019. On that day, Mrs Henderson claimed her line manager Mark Bates had been “abusive and aggressive” towards her, looking at his watch and making sarcastic comments about how long she took on a break and critical comments about her performance. She became upset and went to the toilet before leaving the store to write a resignation letter in her car and to hand in.

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The letter said she was unhappy with management and the way she was spoken to, leaving her ‘unable and unwilling’ to continue in the job. A day earlier, Mrs Henderson claimed Fozia Khan, a section leader in the Accrington store, had been critical of her shoes and the time she was taking for breaks.

Mrs Henderson said issues went back for more than one year, claiming Mr Bates denied her the chance to take breaks during shifts while also making her work for longer than her shifts. She claimed that the above matters related to her race, telling Asda’s HR department that she has suffered under the management of Mr Bates and Ms Khan.

Mrs Henderson’s claim rested on the fact she was the only non-British national working in the team, claiming she was treated differently because English was not her first language and “because she was a foreigner with a different work ethic and attitude to management”, Judge Ainscough said.

Feeling aggrieved at her treatment when Mr Bates shouted at her in a chiller area, Mrs Henderson left the store without finishing her shift, stopping to empty her locker without challenge from her bosses. Asda did not call her at home but instead sent a letter asking her to reconsider her resignation but she declined to do so

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