The sacked M&S worker will be awarded £15,000 in compensation after the court ruled she was wrongly sacked for grieving over a ‘traumatic’ confrontation with a shopper who refused to wear a Covid mask , had been on sick leave
- Deborah Daisy was confronted with an “aggressive” man who refused to wear a mask
- The arbitration panel heard Ms Daisy found the incident “traumatic” and was given a leave of absence
- She previously had an armed robbery and was stalking a shoplifter, the court heard
- This contributed to her being sidelined for five months due to anxiety and depression
- She was sacked, the panel ruled she was wrongly sacked and was awarded £15,000
An M&S worker who was sacked for taking sick sick after a “traumatic” confrontation with a shopper who refused to wear a mask has been awarded £15,000 in compensation.
Deborah Daisy was verbally abused by the “aggressive” man while working for the retail giant at the Oatlands Harrogate Simply Food Store in November 2020, an employment tribunal has heard.
The hearing was told this affected her mental health and brought back her previous experiences of armed robbery and her chasing a shoplifter from the store to a bus stop.
Ms Daisy had received no training in dealing with crime, the panel was told, and she was put on sick leave for five months with anxiety and depression caused by fears about workplace safety.
She complained about M&S’s “lack of action” and said she felt “vulnerable” being in store and was fired after the retail giant said no adjustments were being made.
The judge said she was “surprised” at M&S’ failure to investigate resolving her problems given it’s a “well resourced retailer” and she won her wrongful termination lawsuit.
The panel concluded that she should have been told the outcome of the investigations into her personal security issues, and the company hid behind GDPR restrictions. She has now been awarded a total of £15,004.41 at a further hearing.
Deborah Daisy was verbally abused by the “aggressive” man while working for the retail giant at the Oatlands Harrogate Simply Food Store (pictured) in November 2020, an employment tribunal has heard
‘Loyal and hardworking’ Ms Daisy joined the company in April 2015 and worked part-time as a Sales Assistant in the Teesside Park branch in Stockton-on-Tees.
The tribunal, held in Leeds, was told she stopped work in January 2021 due to “high levels of anxiety” and “severe” depression after confronting a buyer who refused to wear a mask.
During a health meeting the following month, the panel heard that Ms Daisy’s anxiety and depression was caused by the pandemic in general, but made reference to this specific incident. Adjustments were discussed to make her return easier.
The court was told that two occupational medical reports had been drawn up and she had been declared unfit for work, with her return unlikely anytime soon.
Deborah Daisy successfully sued M&S for firing her when she was ill for five months after confronting a maskless shopper at the shop where she worked in Oatlands Harrogate
The panel heard: “Her story would indicate that she is revisiting distressing thoughts and feelings from the armed robbery or other incidents where she felt threatened.
“This will likely have an impact on why she does not feel safe at work at the moment, despite strict Covid prevention measures.
“It is likely that concerns about Covid safety will be compounded by some unresolved issues from the past and could include the armed robbery and issues it has alluded to in the past.”
The panel heard that an investigation into Ms Daisy’s concerns had been carried out by M&S but was not shared with her for “vague” GDPR reasons.
In April, Ms Daisy was warned that her continued absence could result in her sacking if she was unable to return to work, the court has been told.
The situation hadn’t improved by the following month, when the panel heard that the thought of work made her anxiety “through the roof” and made her feel “vulnerable.”
The court was also told Ms Daisy said at a meeting about her absence that she felt M&S had not “acted appropriately and dealt with abusive customers”.
Ms Daisy said being confronted with a maskless shopper was “traumatic”. Pictured: shoppers with face masks. There is no indication that any of those pictured faced Mrs Daisy
“Most of the fourth consultation was taken up by [Mrs Daisy] She complained about the lack of response to the incidents she previously reported that had happened to her at the store, making her feel vulnerable,” the tribunal said.
“It is clear from the content of the discussion at the fourth consultation that these are the matters that [she] say she is being prevented from returning to work.”
She was released in June of the same year, but appealed unsuccessfully.
Ms Daisy then took M&S to the Labor Court, which found that she should have been told the outcome of the investigation and that M&S only gave her the information after her dismissal.
Labor judge Timothy Knowles concluded: “In my view it fell outside the range of reasonable responses that an employer could reasonably have taken to dismiss without sharing insights into the issues they were facing in relation to their personal safety and her commitment [Mrs Daisy] about how their personal safety fears can be addressed in the future.
“I’m surprised these things haven’t been investigated [her] given that [Marks and Spencer Plc] is a well stocked UK retailer and given that the plight of shop workers and the abuse they are subjected to at work is well known.’
Ms Daisy will be awarded compensation in due course, but this will be reduced by 25 per cent because the court assessed “there is a 25 per cent chance of dismissal in any case”.