Anxious takeaway shop worker sacked after she complained about a ‘volatile’ chef who told her ‘you don’t need a f*****g notepad to remember a f*****g sandwich’ wins almost £30,000 after unfair dismissal claim

  • Stephanie Nelson was shouted at by chef Chris Brown in a series of sweary rants 
  • Ms Nelson was subjected to tirades while working at the takeaway in Rotherham
  • She complained to her bosses about his behaviour and had to take sick leave
  • But she was sacked when she raised formal grievances about how was treated
  • A judge found she was unlawfully dismissed due to disability and victimisation 

An anxious takeaway shop worker has won almost £30,000 after she was sacked for complaining about a bullying chef who told her ‘You don’t need a f*****g notepad to remember a f*****g sandwich’.

Stephanie Nelson was subjected to angry, expletive-riddled rants by ‘volatile’ Chris Brown while working at a sandwich bar near Rotherham in South Yorkshire, an employment tribunal heard.

The chef’s Gordon Ramsay-esque cursing exacerbated Mrs Nelson’s anxiety and made her ‘nervous and frightened’ which also increased the risk of her suffering from stress-related epileptic seizures, the hearing was told.

The tribunal heard her treatment worsened after she complained to bosses, and she was eventually let go after raising several grievances.

Stephanie Nelson has been awarded nearly £30,000 in compensation after she was sacked for complaining about a chef’s expletive-riddled rants to her. Mrs Nelson had been working at Hoggies (pictured), in Wath upon Dearne, near Rotherham

Now she has been awarded £28,380 in compensation after the tribunal ruled she had been discriminated against.

Mrs Nelson began working for Hoggies Food Ltd as a catering assistant in their takeaway sandwich bar in Rotherham, South Yorkshire, in September 2020.

The tribunal, held in Sheffield, heard she suffers from epilepsy, anxiety and depression, and occasionally suffered from ‘stress-related seizures’ for which she took medication.

Hoggies was run by Peter Chadwick, 49, but was overseen by his wife, Jane Chadwick, who interviewed Mrs Nelson and offered her the job.

During the interview Mrs Chadwick explained the sandwich shop’s ‘volatile’ head chef, Chris Brown – who she described as a ‘handful’ but whose ‘bark is worse than his bite’ – would be Mrs Nelson’s manager.

The tribunal was told staff at the sandwich shop often felt as though they were ‘walking on eggshells’ around Mr Brown, who would ‘swear habitually’ and shout things like ‘it’s not f*****g hard’.

During the pandemic customers were not allowed to enter the restaurant, and Mrs Nelson would therefore take orders at the door.

Mrs Nelson also suffered from difficulties with her memory, and bought a notepad in mid-October to assist her in remembering orders.

However, Mr Brown angrily insisted she didn’t need a pad to note the ‘simple’ orders down, telling her: ‘You don’t need a f*****g pad to remember a f*****g sandwich’.

The panel heard Mrs Nelson was absent with illness – complaining of an upset stomach – for two days at the end of October.

An employment tribunal heard that Hoggies (pictured) had gone into liquidation before the case, but had reopened as a new company under the same ownership. The court ruled this was likely an attempt for the owners to avoid liability from Mrs Nelson’s complaint

When she returned to work in November, Mr Brown’s abusive behaviour towards her remained unchanged.

On November 7, he shouted at her: ‘I don’t want it f*****g doing like that – I want it f*****g doing my way,’ the tribunal heard.

These comments made Mrs Nelson feel ‘extremely nervous and frightened’ and ‘exacerbated’ her feelings of anxiety.

She spoke to Mrs Chadwick, but felt Mr Brown’s behaviour towards her ‘worsened’ following their conversation, noticing that ‘as soon as she arrived at work’ he would ‘shout and swear’ at her.

The morning after receiving another abusive outburst in mid-December, the tribunal heard Mrs Nelson woke up feeling extremely unwell with a continuous migraine, which triggered her seizures.

She later sent a text to Mrs Chadwick complaining of ‘bullying’ Mr Brown, and asked for her message to be treated as a formal grievance.

In January 2021 she wrote a grievance letter, focusing on Mr Brown’s behaviour towards her and accusing both her and Mr Brown of ignoring the ‘triggers’ of her disabilities.

Later that month she was told by Mr Brown that Hoggies could no longer offer her 16 hours of work a week, and added her ‘bombardment’ of text messages to both him and Mrs Chadwick had gotten ‘ridiculously out of hand’.

A letter from Mrs Chadwick later confirmed the ‘mutual decision’ to end her employment.

But Employment Judge Neil Maidment said that the decision to end Mrs Nelson’s employment discriminated against her as a disabled person.

Judge Maidment said: ‘The tribunal accepts the evidence that [Mrs Nelson] requiring a notepad arose out of her memory difficulties.

‘Mrs Nelson’s [December] absence followed abusive treatment she received from Mr Brown where the resulting stress and migraines impacted upon her by reason of her epilepsy – there being a risk of seizures which rendered her unable to attend work.

‘Mrs Nelson’s dismissal by Mr Brown and therefore Hoggies Food in such circumstances amounts to unlawful discrimination arising from disability.’

Mrs Nelson’s claims of unlawful dismissal arising from disability and victimisation and failure to make reasonable adjustments succeeded.

She was awarded a total of £28,380.77 – £18,000 of which was for injury to feelings.

Hoggies Food Ltd entered a ‘voluntary creditors’ liquidation’ in the summer of last year, which the tribunal concluded was likely in order ‘to avoid any liability’ arising from Mrs Nelson’s tribunal complaint.

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