Ukrainian Svitlana Henderson handed in her notice in 2019 after 15 years at the retail giant, who have now apologized for her experiences and been ordered to pay out more than £60,000
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A former Asda worker has been awarded more than £60,000 as a judge ruled she was subjected to racial discrimination in the workplace.
Svitlana Henderson, from Ukraine, worked for the retail giant for 15 years but handed in her notice in 2019 after a “lengthy campaign of harassment” lasting 14 months.
Mrs Henderson claimed at an employment tribunal she was treated differently during her time at the Accrington store as English was not her first language and because she was a “foreigner with a different work ethic.”
Asda refuted her claims but has now been ordered to pay her £62,000 and apologized for her experiences, Lancs Live reported.
Mrs Henderson handed in her notice on May 8 2019 as she claimed her line manager, Mark Bates, was “abusive and aggressive” towards her, looked at his watch and made sarcastic comments about how long she took on a break amid critical comments about her performance.
A day earlier, Mrs Henderson claimed Fozia Khan, a section leader in the Accrington store, had been critical of her shoes and the time she was taking for breaks.
Mrs Henderson said the issues went back for more than a year, claiming Mr Bates denied her the chance to take breaks during shifts while also making her work for longer than her shifts.
She claimed that the above matters related to her race, telling Asda’s HR department that she has suffered under the management of Mr Bates and Ms Khan.
Feeling aggrieved at her treatment when Mr Bates shouted at her in a chiller area, Mrs Henderson left the store without finishing her shift, stopping to empty her locker without challenge from her bosses. Asda did not call her at home but instead sent a letter asking her to reconsider her resignation from her but she declined to do so.
Mrs Henderson claimed Mr Bates spoke to her in a “demeaning and disrespectful manner” because of her “cultural work ethic and subservient attitude towards management, but did not treat other British colleagues, with different ethics and attitudes, in the same way”.
During the court process, Asda refuted Mrs Henderson’s claims, saying she confirmed that any complaints were resolved to her satisfaction. The company also said Mrs Henderson took breaks that were too long leaving staff in a place to discuss this with her.
The company stated that she had only brought the claim forward to “gain compensation”.
Judge Ainscough ruled Asda must pay a total in excess of £62,000, comprising £40,000 awarded for injury to feelings, £8,355 for interest on this sum; a basic award of £3,768; and compensation of £10,886.
Explaining her ruling, she wrote the defendant’s subsequent mental health problems related directly to her treatment at Asda.
She added: “In March 2021 this Court found the claimant had been constructively unfairly dismissed from the respondent’s employment and harassed on the grounds of her race during her employment.
“The Tribunal determined the harassment amounted to a lengthy campaign over a period of 14 months which had a profound effect on the claimant.”
An Asda spokesperson said: ”We are extremely sorry Mrs. Henderson had these experiences whilst working at Asda.
“The issues raised at the tribunal have no place in the inclusive culture we strive to achieve in all our stores.”
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.