Hovis ordered to compensate BFAWU members for unfair dismissal
Baking giant Hovis Ltd has been brought to book after unfairly and wrongfully dismissing two employees who had notified management of health and safety issues. The case was brought on their behalf by Thompsons Solicitors with the backing of the BFAWU, their trade union.
Peter Barszczak and Mohammed Farooq were dismissed by Hovis after the two men reported an accident which took place at a Hovis warehouse. Disgusted at their treatment, the men launched a legal challenge against Hovis with support from the BFAWU and its solicitors, Thompsons.
Mr. Barszczak, a shop steward for the BFAWU, suffered an injury at work after a faulty door shut on his leg which left him with visible bruising. His colleague Mr. Farooq witnessed the event and reported it to managers. Rather than take proper responsibility for their worker’s injury, Hovis instead accused the men of colluding to fabricate the story, and fired them both.
Both men took Hovis to an employment tribunal in 2013 which found Hovis had unfairly and wrongfully dismissed them and subjected them to a detriment for reporting an accident at work.
An employment tribunal ordered Hovis to financially compensate Mr Barszczak and Mr Farooq for loss of earnings and re-engage both men, but Hovis has failed to give them their jobs back or financially compensate them.
The latest tribunal hearing in June 2015 ordered Hovis to financially compensate both men further.
Peter Barszczak said: “The total cost to Hovis of wrongfully dismissing me has now reached in excess of £100,000.
“They have treated us appallingly but we are determined to stand up to them as we have done for the past four years. Hovis lied to us, and about us.
“We did not fabricate an accident; I was injured, I reported it and Mohammed witnessed the accident. I think that Hovis’ appalling attitude towards me had more to do with my being a shop steward for a trade union than anything else.”
Mohammed Farooq, who began working at Hovis in 1987, said: “Thanks to the behaviour of Hovis the last four years have at times been unbearable. My family and I have felt great stress and anxiety because Hovis chose to fight us tooth and nail, when all we did was follow procedure and report an accident.
“Personally, I don’t think my life will ever be the same. Working at Hovis was the only thing I knew and I’ve struggled to find another job. Worst of all has been my former colleagues thinking I lied about witnessing the accident. With this ruling I hope people will know I have always acted honestly.”
Ian Hodson, National President of BFAWU said: “Hovis not only failed to keep its employees safe, they covered up their error by accusing Mr. Barszczak and Mr. Farooq of making up their story and deprived them of work and earnings. Hovis has caused untold damage to these innocent men who must now try to get on with their lives after a tortuous four year legal battle”.
Haylee Chambers, employment rights specialist at Thompsons Solicitors, has been representing the men in the case. She said: “The law is very clear. Employees should not be dismissed for telling their employer about a breach of health and safety and Hovis has acted disgracefully.
“Mr. Barszczak and Mr. Farooq have been thrown out of work, and have endured a huge amount of stress and anxiety because the company tried to cover its tracks. We’re very pleased that today we have seen the right outcome and that Hovis has been brought to book.”