Receptionist Excluded From Pizza Order at Work Wins $32,000 in Court

A receptionist who was not included in office pizza orders has gone on to win over £23,000 (around $32,000) in compensation after a tribunal described her experience as a "campaign of victimization."

The ruling of the employment tribunal said Malgorzata Lewicka, who worked at the car dealership before being laid off in January 2019, had been deliberately excluded from "Pizza Fridays," as reported by local media on Friday.

Managers at Hartwell, a Ford car dealership in Watford, U.K., would ask staff which takeaway food they would like to order every month, and this included pizza, or other fast food options.

Lewicka told the hearing on April 15, 2021 that she was not asked what she would like to eat.

She explained that "other employees were asked but she was not asked if she wanted to order food or participate."

Lewicka told the hearing that this occurred after she had accused one member of staff of sexual discrimination back in March 2018.

The colleague was investigated following a complaint by Lewicka. Hartwell found that gross misconduct had been committed and the colleague was issued a written final warning.

Lewicka had also complained about her working hours and pay.

After this took place, Lewicka was not invited to the company-wide lunch, which took place on the last Friday of every month, she revealed to the court.

Hartwell claimed that she was not invited to the lunches because she was a part-time worker, finishing daily at 1 p.m.

However, the tribunal ruled that this was not a reasonable excuse.

Lewicka began working for Hartwell in their Watford branch in 2014, but when it underwent a rebuild the receptionist was moved to another car dealership in Hemel Hempstead, northwest of London.

She stayed at this branch from November 2016 to April 2018, and it was there that she made the complaint about sexual discrimination.

After this she retuned to the Watford location, where she was then excluded from "Pizza Friday."

Judge Jennifer Bartlett said: "We accept that the lunches may have been ad hoc and they were informal.

"However [Lewicka] gave clear evidence that at Hemel a manager went around the site taking lunch orders and that she was included. However when she moved to Watford she was not asked if she wanted to order or participate whereas other colleagues were.

"She could have been asked if she wanted to join in."

The judges also stated: "We find that her exclusion was victimization which continued until around the time of her dismissal."

The court also heard that some of Lewicka's colleagues would not speak to her, and would hang up on her if she picked up their call.

large pepperoni pizza
A stock image of a large pizza. A woman has been awarded a sum of $32,078 after being excluded from office pizza lunches. Getty Images

Hartwell said Lewicka was laid off because her position was to be performed full time.

Judge Jennifer Bartlett ruled that she received less favorable treatment as a part-time employee because she is a single mother, and this amounted to sexual discrimination.

She said: "[Lewicka] as a single woman with child care commitments has suffered a disadvantage from [Hartwell's] requirement that Service Advisors work full-time namely she was selected for redundancy and dismissed."

She was awarded the £23,079 ($32,078.31) for loss of earnings and injury to feelings.