Barmaid wins case for unfair dismissal against Gorleston Golf Club

Gorleston Golf Club

Gorleston Golf Club - Credit: Archant

An 'internationally famous' golf club is facing a payout, after a diabetic barmaid won an unfair dismissal claim.

The case against Gorleston Golf Club hinged on a 'last-straw' incident, when the claimant's line manager – a qualified first-aider – sat drinking in the club bar while the barmaid collapsed in a diabetic coma.

Employment judge Robin Postle criticised first-aider Allen Gray's failure to act, noting: 'It was, putting it mildly, appalling behaviour, contemptuous and unacceptable for a responsible line manager, because that is what Mr Gray was in relation to the claimant.' His written judgment was released late last month, ahead of the remedy hearing on July 8 – when the nature of the settlement will be decided.

And in his judgment Mr Postle stressed the severity of the incident on August 5, 2012.

'One has to bear in mind that if a hypoglycaemic attack goes untreated it could lead to cardiac arrest,' he stated.

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Mr Gray allegedly 'chose to continue drinking with his friends and not offer any assistance... on the grounds that he was off-duty'.

He did not make any attempt to call an ambulance, the tribunal on March 26-27 heard.

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Three members intervened to bring Michelle Polidano round.

The background to the incident is of a sour relationship between Mr Gray and claimant Ms Polidano. Ms Polidano began working behind the club bar in 2005, but she claimed things took a turn for the worse after Allen Gray became her boss in March 2011.

Club steward Mr Gray – who is 'a man of some 25 stone' – had 'taken against' her and flew into an 'aggressive rage' at some of her 'reasonable' requests. The claimant's working conditions were also altered around the time Mr Gray took over, with a policy of no eating behind the bar introduced. This meant Ms Polidano could not take her medication, and despite her best efforts she said she could not get management to make changes.

But club manager David James claimed that 'he told her that she could eat in the TV room, leaving the bar unattended for 15 minutes'.

The tribunal rejected the evidence on this point, stating the arrangement would have been 'impractical'. Judge Mr Postle said Ms Polidano was a 'straightforward, honest, consistent and direct witness'.

Mr Gray did not appear at the tribunal, but Mr James gave evidence. The written judgment states: 'We found Mr James an evasive witness who found the truth an elusive concept.'

Mr Postle ruled in favour of claimant Michelle Polidano on her claim of constructive dismissal, and said Gorleston Golf Club failed in its duty to make reasonable adjustment to her working conditions considering her diabetes. But it ruled her claims of indirect discrimination and discrimination arising from disability were not well-founded.

The nature of the settlement will be decided at a remedy hearing on Monday, July 8.

Club manager Mr James said neither the club nor Mr Gray would make any comment at this stage, but confirmed that Mr Gray remained in his role at the club. He added: 'We will leave it with the legal process.'

Ms Polidano said she did not wish to comment until after the remedy hearing.

The Gorleston club was founded in 1906 and its website says it is 'internationally famous' for being the most easterly course in the UK.

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