A MAN has been awarded more than £50,000 after being subjected to harassment at work which left him feeling suicidal.
After an employment tribunal ruled in Wayne Hoch’s favour the 35-year-old has spoken of his relief that the matter was now closed. He said he hoped his case would encourage others to take action.
“I’m so relieved and it feels like I have a new life now,” he said.
“I know now why people are reluctant to take cases like this to court as the stress was unbelievable.
“I want to encourage others you don’t need to stand for verbal or racial abuse at work. I almost ended my life from the stress and anxiety this gave me.”
In its judgment against Ulverston’s Thor Atkinson Steel Fabrication Ltd following a hearing in April, the tribunal ruled that all of Mr Hoch’s claims, which included constructive unfair dismissal and racist and homophobic harassment, were well-founded.
Mr Hoch had worked for the company as a buyer since December 2014.
He resigned in April 2018.
The tribunal heard from witnesses including company co-owners Jemma and Thor Atkinson as well as Mr Hoch and former colleague Diane Brady.The panel deemed the claimant and Mrs Brady provided ‘coherent, consistent and credible’ evidence while Mr and Mrs Atkinson, who insisted their treatment of Mr Hoch was ‘office banter’, did not.
At a remedy hearing in Carlisle, Judge Bernard Hodgson awarded Mr Hoch, who was born in South Africa but came to the UK when he was 18, a total of £54,686.
Judge Hodgson explained that £22,000 of the sum was awarded in respect of the racial harassment claim, and a number of factors had influenced this decision.
“Firstly, the nature of the comments themselves; secondly, the extent, the prolonged period over which the comments were made; thirdly, the fact that the owners of the business were complicit in – and indeed directly partook in – the conduct complained of, and found by the tribunal; and, fourthly and perhaps most significantly, the impact of the conduct on the claimant’s mental health,” Judge Hodgson explained.
Mr Hoch said he suffered particular stress when he received correspondence from his former employer’s solicitors in respect of a laptop and associated equipment which he had allegedly not returned.Judge Hodgson noted the financial extent of the claims made were ‘potentially very worrying to the individuals involved’.
“More particularly, the tribunal notes the conduct of the respondent in involving the police by making a complaint to them concerning the claimant,” he said.
“That resulted in the claimant being arrested and the consequential actions that result from such an arrest.
“None of this, so far as the evidence before the tribunal is concerned has resulted in any further action being pursued against the claimant.”