Trebles employee wins unfair dismissal claim after sharing comments about ‘creepy’ boss

Damaris Trench was fired after sharing and liking a social media post about the club’s owner

A Trebles employee has won an unfair dismissal case after she was fired for sharing a social media post alleging that her boss was “inappropriate” to customers and members of staff.

Damaris Trench worked at the popular student venue Trebles from 2018 until 2020 when she was fired after sharing her boyfriend Dan Sargeant’s Facebook post, accusing her boss Himesh Patel of “wildly inappropriate” behaviour and calling him “creepy”, an employment tribunal heard.

Dan had also worked at Trebles alongside Damaris but resigned from the bar before having to face disciplinary action for accusations of drinking on shift and being late to work on multiple occasions.

After his resignation, Dan wrote a social media post which was originally shared to the Overheard at University of Lincoln Facebook group before it was deleted by the group’s moderator due to the “defamatory” content of the post.

The post said that Patel had asked a staff member for a “threesome”, repeatedly tried to kiss a female colleague and had been “creeping on a 17 year old who had managed to sneak in”.

Damaris shared the post on both Facebook and Snapchat but was fired six days later with immediate effect, despite deleting the posts hours after sharing and apologising for her actions.

After attending a meeting the following day managers explained that the posts were seen as “gross misconduct” due to the contents of the post being “detrimental to our business”. Damaris was dismissed as her actions were seen as damaging the reputation of the venue and not because she raised allegations of sexual misconduct against Patel.

Damaris asked to make a complaint about Mr Patel’s behaviour but an employment tribunal found that no investigation into this complaint was ever carried out by Trebles. Instead, the venue’s General Manger, Ian Hughes, took advice from a business consultant who advised him to focus on the comments made in the Facebook post about the business and to dismiss Damaris.

Employment Judge Kirsty Ayre ruled that Damaris had been unfairly dismissed, she said that Trebles “had no social media or disciplinary policy warning employees that the behaviour engaged in by [Miss Trench] is even a disciplinary issue.”

Judge Ayre concluded: “No reasonable employer would, in our view, have dismissed in these circumstances. We therefore find that the dismissal of the claimant was both substantially and procedurally unfair.

Damaris’ other complaints of automatic unfair dismissal and victimisation failed.

A spokesperson for Mr Patel said: “In over 14 years his businesses have employed over 200 people many of whom retain contact and are repeat customers at his bars. No informal or formal complaints have ever been made in all that time.

“The allegations made were never supported by any witness evidence in the Tribunal and allegations of whistleblowing and victimisation were dismissed He is not named as a party in the Judgment.”

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