Shelf-stacker suing Tesco after being ‘bullied by colleagues because he is deaf’

November 12, 2014 | by | 0 Comments

A Tesco shelf-stacker is suing the supermarket giant for nearly £100,000 after claiming he was hounded out of his job by colleagues who bullied him – because he is DEAF.

James Kitson, 32, walked out of his job as a team leader at the store in September after complaining of “victimisation” and being passed over for promotion.

An employment tribunal heard that on one occasion a colleague scrawled “JA Kitson is a deaf c**t” on a toilet wall.

Mr Kitson told Birmingham Employment Tribunal that despite the graffiti being spotted by senior staff they refused to launch a proper investigation.

He is claiming disability discrimination and breaches of EU working laws after he says he was forced to work back to back shifts with barely a break in between.

He also claims he was ignored for a new role because he lodged an official complaint against “vindictive” bosses.

Mr Kitson, from Southam, Warks., said senior staff had ignored company policy to take into account his hearing problems, that mean he cannot hear anyone behind him.

He told the hearing on Tuesday that he began working at the Warwick branch while doing his A-levels in 1999 and had an exemplary record.

He is now suing Tesco for £97,400 compensation claiming emotional distress caused by disability discrimination and bullying that caused him to leave the company.

Mr Kitson told the tribunal: “I would not normally use the men’s toilets at work, but due to an abscess I needed to use them to sort it out every few hours.

“It was a Sunday so the store closed at 4pm that day and only staff were around after that.

“When I went in I noticed the words ‘JA Kitston is a deaf c**t’ scratched into the back of the door.

“It had my middle initial in it, which is only available from official Tesco records so it had to be a member of staff.”

He also claimed his name was added to a list of people who needed to attend a meeting for a new contract.

But when he turned up he found the name had been added by an unnamed colleague, and there was no contract waiting.

He also claims he was forced to work shifts within 11 hours of each other – breaking EU working laws.

Store manager Owen Culshaw admitted he had never launched an official investigation into the graffiti incident.

He said: “I asked a colleague to look into it, to make some informal enquiries.

“I didn’t see a point making it formal and interviewing everyone, because I did not think the chances of anyone admitting to doing it were very high.

“You are given a handbook when you join about equality. Everyone at Tesco gets one.

“It is not replaced when a new one comes out, but it is on everyone’s file digitally so can be accessed.

“We have a disability policy book, but I haven’t read it all, it is there to refer to. The book is over 3,000 pages long.

“When Mr Kitson had his last performance review he did not like the findings. I am told he ripped up the documents and walked out of the store there and then.”

Representing himself Mr Kitson denied he had stormed out of the store, and claimed that line manager Paul Fisher had not given him time to prepare for the interview.

He said: “Paul Fisher made the store an offensive environment to work in, I was victimised by Paul Fisher in the review.”

The tribunal, which is expected to last two weeks, continues.

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