Vegan Subway worker wins £13,000 harassment claim after her boss waved meat in her face and told her ‘NASA should send you back to Mars’
A vegan Subway worker has won a £13,000 harassment claim after her boss waved meat in her face and urged her to eat food she was allergic to.
Kady Reilly’s line manager Himanshu Lahar would make comments about her appearance – and when she refused to eat the food she was allergic to, he said ‘NASA should send you back to Mars’, the panel heard.
The employment tribunal was told the mother-of-two made various complaints about the operation of the fast food chain, including that Mr Lahar had served vegan customers dairy cheese when they ran out of a plant-based alternative.
Miss Reilly is a vegan but also suffered from allergies, meaning she carried an Epi-pen with her.
But when bosses at RT Management Bridgeton Limited, which owned the franchise, did not listen, Miss Reilly reported them to Environmental Health and was sacked shortly after an investigation was carried out by the local council.
Kady Reilly was harassed during her time working at the Subway in a petrol station in Bridgeton, Glasgow. Her line manager Himanshu Lahar would make comments about her appearance and when she refused to eat the food she was allergic to, he said ‘NASA should send you back to Mars.’ Pictured, stock of a Subway shop
The employment tribunal in Glasgow (pictured) was told the mother-of-two made various complaints about the operation of the fast food chain, including that Mr Lahar had served vegan customers dairy cheese when they ran out of a plant-based alternative
She is now due to receive almost £13,000 after an employment tribunal found she was fired for making the protected disclosures and that her boss’ comments went against the Equality Act as her veganism constitutes a philosophical belief.
The hearing in Glasgow, heard she does not use products which contain animal substances, brings up her children as vegan and takes part in peaceful activism and fundraises for animal charities.
The panel was told Miss Reilly – who started working at the shop in August 2020 – suffered from long term health problems which would leave her fatigued, and she would have to take up to three days to recover after working.
She also challenged Mr Lahar about Covid steps that were not being taken during the pandemic.
The panel heard he told one male worker to come into work, although he’d been told to isolate for 14 days as he had been identified as a close contact of a positive case.
Over the course of her employment Mr Lahar – who was aware of her health issues – allegedly made various comments, including that she was being ‘experimented on’ and was a ‘science experiment’.
The panel heard Miss Reilly carried an Epi-pen and later told Mr Lahar about her veganism after which he laughed at her, made jokes and encouraged her to handle and eat meat.
‘She described being ‘shocked’ at Himanshu Lahar’s flippant attitude towards allergies and the possible consequences of a person consuming a substance which they had a severe allergic reaction to,’ the hearing was told.
‘She said that she had ‘never been disrespected in a work environment before’.
‘She described the process which she was going through at the time to obtain a diagnosis as ‘very stressful’.
‘[She] described her employment with the respondent as ‘a really poor experience’ and ‘very stressful’.’
Mr Lahar would change the dates on out of date lettuce, refused to throw away meatballs that had been left out for ten hours and continued to serve dairy cheese to those who asked for the vegan option despite her protesting, the panel heard.
Additionally, Miss Reilly told the hearing she would have to dispose of her used sanitary products on the forecourt of the petrol station as no bin was provided in the staff toilet, which left her feeling ‘humiliated’.
But Mr Lahar told she was the only woman ‘of menstruating age’ who used the toilet and simply told her to use the bin in the kitchen, the panel heard.
Consequently, in September 2020, she contacted Environmental Health and an inspection was carried out, and as a result, Mr Lamar was told to introduce Covid measures and provide a sanitary bin.
The panel heard Mr Lamar said to her: ‘They asked about the bin. That’s what you asked about wasn’t it? They asked about the date stickers. That’s what you asked about, as well, didn’t you?’
In October 2020, she was fired and told she had not passed her probationary period.
Miss Reilly then took RT Management Bridgeton Limited to the employment tribunal, claiming unfair dismissal, harassment, unauthorised deductions from wages and that she had not had uninterrupted rest breaks.
She won each of her claims, with the tribunal ruling Mr Lamar had harassed her and that the principal reason she was sacked was because she had made the protected disclosures.
Employment Judge Claire McManus concluded: ‘We were satisfied on the basis of [her] evidence that her belief in veganism perpetrates her life and how she lives her life.
‘[She] showed that her practice of veganism is a belief intrinsic to her sense of identity.
‘We were satisfied that for [Miss Reilly], veganism is a philosophical belief within the meaning of section 10 of the Equality Act 2010 and is a protected characteristic for her.’
Miss Reilly is now due to receive £12,636.40.