Wetherspoons worker is sacked after calling transgender colleague ‘thing’ and referring to his own girlfriend as ‘the black one’
- Wetherspoon worker Andrew Rush sacked for using ‘inappropriate’ language
- He called a transgender colleague ‘thing’ and called girlfriend ‘the black one’
- Mr Rush, of Stevenage, Hertfordshire, launched claim alleging unfair dismissal
- A tribunal in Bury St Edmunds upheld Wetherspoon’s decision to sack Mr Rush
A Wetherspoon worker has been sacked after calling a transgender colleague a ‘thing’ and referring to his own girlfriend as ‘the black one’.
Andrew Rush, who was a kitchen assistant at the Standard Bearer pub in Stevenage, Hertfordshire, called a male colleague named Ollie ‘she’, before trying to correct his mistake by saying ‘he, her, thing, whatever it is’.
An employment tribunal in Bury St Edmunds heard he also referred to his girlfriend Ariana Kadiri as ‘the black one’ as well as other racist and sexist language, and was subsequently sacked for gross misconduct.
Though he launched a claim alleging unfair dismissal, an employment judge upheld Wetherspoon’s decision, arguing they were ‘entitled’ to dismiss him for his use of ‘inappropriate racial terms and graphic sexual references’.
The tribunal heard that pub manager Keyne Sutherland received a complaint about Mr Rush’s use of racist and transphobic language in January last year.
Andrew Rush, who worked at the Standard Bearer pub in Stevenage, called a male colleague named Ollie ‘she’, before trying to correct his mistake by saying ‘he, her, thing, whatever it is’
Sophie Quinlin, the kitcher manager, posted in the managers’ WhatsApp group chat explaining what had taken place. She said: ‘Andrew asked [another colleague] if he knew why Ollie was back and accidentally said ‘she’ and then he was like ‘oh ffs, he, her, thing what ever it is. Why is thing back’.’
Ms Quinlin said she was worried that staff members were making fun of Ollie, who is a trans man, and they had joked that another female staff member fancied him.
The tribunal also heard that Ollie believed his colleagues, and had been messaging the woman, Ms Kadiri, asking if she wanted to meet up for a drink.
Though Mr Rush was dating Ms Kadira, Ms Sutherland was told that he regularly used racist, sexist language towards her in front of other staff.
When asked, Ms Kadira said he often called her ‘the black one’ and that once after a night out he had begun calling her a ‘s**t and a horrible person’ because he thought she had given her phone number to someone else.
The tribunal heard that he also discussed their sex life in ‘graphic detail’ in front of others, despite Ms Kadira repeatedly telling him to stop. She said that Mr Rush had a habit of apologising but not ‘actually changing his behaviour’.
When confronted with the allegations by his employers, Mr Rush claimed he was suffering from ‘concussion and PTSD’ at the time of the incidents.
He said he had been drinking to cope with his mental health problems but that only made his symptoms worse and he often ‘didn’t really understand what he had said until he said it’.
Mr Rush was sacked for gross misconduct but subsequently launched a claim alleging unfair dismissal.
The tribunal heard that while the transphobic remarks were found to have been made, they were not included in the initial disciplinary allegations. A senior Wetherspoon manager later concluded that the comments should have been part of the hearing.
However, employment Judge Jean Laidler upheld Wetherspoon’s decision, concluding: ‘Mr Rush had disclosed his mental health issues to [Wetherspoons] but they were entitled to conclude that they did not excuse the comments made and words used.
‘Dismissal was clearly in the band when [Wetherspoon] was satisfied that [he] had used inappropriate racial terms and graphic sexual references to a work colleague.’