The owner of a Chinese takeaway in Derry has been ordered to pay £18,000 in damages for his ‘shockingly cruel’ treatment of a female staff member.
An industrial tribunal found that Finvola McMullan was treated less favourably by Kian Lee, the boss of China Garden, on Foyle Street, because she was pregnant.
Mr. Lee did not attend the hearing, and was not reprepresented and Ms McMullan’s evidence was unchallenged.
The tribunal heard Ms. McMullan began working at the Chinese takeaway in August 2013 but never received a written contract of employment or holiday or sick pay from her employer.
In 2016, Ms McMullan suffered a miscarriage and took just three days off work, for which she organised alternative cover. Mr. Lee was aware of the miscarriage.
In March 2017, Ms McMullan told Mr Lee she was pregnant again, to which he replied “Are you serious? How long is it before you can lose it?”
The tribunal panel heard his question made Ms. McMullan feel ‘extremely uncomfortable’ and within days Mr Lee’s behaviour towards her deteriorated and he became verbally abusive.
Ms McMullan felt her boss was trying to force her out of her job due to her pregnancy.
In it’s published judgement, the tribunal panel said: “The evidence as to the timing of Kian Lee’s change of attitude towards the claimant, namely: when she told him she was pregnant again; the action he took in his aggression and comment about ‘losing’ it... give rise to a clear and compelling inference that the claimant was being punished for causing inconvenience by being pregnant.”
“The tribunal considers that the treatment of the claimant by the respondents was vindictive and callous. She was humiliated; Kian Lee’s indifference to her around the loss of her first baby was compounded in this case by his expressed wish that she would “lose” her second child, and is viewed by the tribunal as shockingly cruel.”