Victimisation complaint against OTT upheld

An employment tribunal has upheld a victimisation claim from Online Travel Training’s former business development manager who was dismissed after complaining of sexism and racism, including being called a ‘princess’.

Matthew Weinreb was dismissed from OTT in July 2019 on grounds of alleged misconduct and was told that part of the reason was that he had raised “very serious issues of sexism and racism”.

A separate claim against OTT of direct discrimination and harassment was dismissed.

The tribunal heard that finance manager Patricia Andrade referred to Weinreb as “princess” in March 2018 and sarcastically said the business development team were meant to be “alpha males”.

Weinreb said he was accused of stealing clients, and that managing director Julia Feuell laughed when he complained of this.

The tribunal also heard Weinreb was confronted by Patricia Andrade and office manager Demi Hadjipetrou due to him recording a conversation, alleging Hadjipetrou raised her hand and said she was going to “teach him a lesson”.

In April 2019, he says he had his system privileges removed “without explanation” and Andrade accused him of “acting prestige”, an allusion to the paid service on a gay dating app Grindr.

Weinreb also claimed intimidation and harassment, alleging Andrade banged on a toilet cubicle and sent handwritten notes with words such as “fake” when he was speaking to potential clients on the phone.

In May 2019, Weinreb’s wages were deducted and he was invited to an employment review which he said he was given no advance detail of.

Later that month he raised a formal grievance, including allegations of discrimination and harassment.

This was not upheld and in June a second employment review was held at which Weinreb said Feuell banged on a table. In July 2019 he was dismissed on grounds of alleged misconduct.

The tribunal, which took place in April, ruled: “We find that the claimant was victimised for having made allegations of discrimination.”

Tribunal documents said Feuell banging on the table at the grievance outcome meeting and Weinreb being invited to a second employment review without details were both acts of victimisation. It also  said Weinreb raising of allegations of discrimination was a “major factor” in the decision to dismiss him.

But it said: “In relation to the harassment allegations, we find that the conduct was unwanted but that it did not related to the claimant’s protected characteristics.”

On his discrimiation claim, the tribunal ruled: “We find that the ‘banter’ often crossed the line of acceptable behaviour”. But: “We do not find sufficient evidence that the less favourable conduct set out above relates to the claimant’s perceived sexual orientation, race or sex.”

A remedy hearing is due to take place on July 14.

In a statement, OTT parent The Online Travel Group said: “The tribunal dismissed the claims for discrimination and harassment, but we were disappointed that the claims of victimisation were upheld. We shall be studying the judgement carefully.

“The Online Travel Group is fully committed to creating an inclusive working environment and we shall be conducting a review to ensure all our staff understand the importance of respect in the workplace.”

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