Waiter loses case he lost job for accusations colleague made 'passes'

Waiter at gentlemen’s club Brooks’s loses unfair dismissal tribunal after claiming he was made redundant because he accused male colleague of making ‘sexual passes’ at him

  • Waiter Jean-Ange Chiappini was let go from exclusive London club Brooks’s
  • Ass. Sec. Alastair Curbbun warned him for ‘wasting time with false allegations’
  • Told off for seeing elderly mother with Covid in France despite saying ‘off you go’
  • Tribunal judge branded boss ‘very harsh’ but said the waiter wasn’t unfairly let go

One of the world’s most prestigious gentlemen’s clubs in London was sued by a waiter claiming he was made redundant for accusing a male colleague of making ‘sexual passes’ at him.

Jean-Ange Chiappini worked at Brooks’s, one of the oldest gentlemen’s clubs in the world, which is frequented by politicians, peers and aristocrats.

He was made redundant as the business tried to recover post-lockdown last year but claimed managers had been unfairly biased against him, after he complained about a fellow waiter making ‘sexual passes’ at him.

However, his claim of unfair dismissal failed as an employment tribunal ruled there was no bias in the redundancy process.

The judge called Assistant Club Secretary Alastair Curbbun ‘very harsh’ after handing the waiter a final written warning after travelling to his native France to see his elderly mother who was very sick with Covid and could have died, despite telling him ‘off you go’.

Waiter Jean-Ange Chiappini worked at Brooks’s, one of the oldest gentlemen’s clubs in the world (pictured), which is frequented by politicians, peers and aristocrats. It is based on St James’s Street in London

Brooks’s is one of the oldest gentlemen’s clubs in the world. Pictured: The Great Subscription Room at Brooks’s Club, St. James’s Street. A print from ‘The Microcosm of London’, by William Henry Pyne (1770-1843). Illustrated by Thomas Rowlandson (1756-1827) and Auguste Charles Pugin (1762-1832)

Former members of the elite establishment, formed in 1762, include Prime Minister William Pitt and William Wilberforce, one of the leaders of the movement to abolish the slave trade.

The tribunal, held in central London, heard Mr Chiappini started work at the 260 year old club as an agency worker in 2008 and was employed on a permanent basis from May 2017 as a waiter in the Spencer Room.

In February 2019, Mr Chiappini was given a first written warning by Mr Curbbun for eating in an area where he should not have been eating and for making club members wait before they could pay.

He claimed this was an example of him being treated differently because of previous allegations of unwanted sexual attention from one of his colleagues.

The tribunal heard he claimed he had repeatedly ‘turned down Salvador’s sexual passes at me’ and ‘working had become so difficult’ he even recorded one alleged encounter and filed a grievance.

However, the tribunal heard the recording was listened to and not ruled to have been harassment by bosses.

Mr Curbbun told Mr Chiappini he viewed the recording as ‘entrapment’ and added: ‘Your allegations of racist remarks and sexual advances cannot be proven and we are unable to see who is at fault.

‘This has now resulted in poor staff morale and it is affecting the business with poor customer service.’

He was told to stop making ‘constant’ and ‘unsubstantiated’ allegations because ‘all your colleagues and supervisors have to deal with your daily trivialities’.

In March 2019, Mr Curbbun issued Mr Chiappini with a second written warning for ‘wasting management time with false allegations’.

Mr Chiappini was given an appraisal in October 2019 and was told he ‘needs improvement’ in several categories. He claimed this was unfair.

Mr Chiappini claimed that a colleague ‘Salvator’ made unwanted ‘sexual passes’ at him. Assistant Secretary of the club issued him a warning saying he was ‘wasting management time with false allegations’. The waiter at the exclusive London club was given a final written warning after he visited his mother in France while she was sick with Covid, despite Mr Curbbun saying, ‘Off you go’

The same day, he received a call from his father to say his mother had caught coronavirus and was going to hospital.

The tribunal heard his parents lived in France, his mother was in her late 80s and his father was 92.

He left to go to France on dependents leave after explaining the situation to Mr Curbbun who said: ‘Off you go.’

Over a week later, Mr Curbbun emailed him to invite him to a disciplinary meeting, as he had not been in contact regularly and Mr Curbbun said the leave was never officially authorised.

When he returned to work at the Palladian-style building in St James’s St in December, Mr Chiappini was handed a final written warning for unauthorised leave, but this was overturned on appeal.

As a result of reduced business and closures because of the pandemic, club secretary Ian Faul decided it was necessary to reduce staffing levels through redundancy.

Regency gentlemen gambling on the card game Hazard at Brooks’s club. Pictured: Hand coloured copperplate drawn and engraved by Robert Cruikshank from The English Spy in 1825

Brooks’s Gentlemen’s Club: The history of one of the world’s oldest private clubs

  • In January 1762 Messrs. Boothby and James established a private society at 50 Pall Mall after being ‘blackballed’ from a membership of White’s
  • This then split and the club that became Brooks’s (Almack’s) was founded in March 1764 by 27 Whig (an old political party) nobles
  • These included the Duke of Portland, the Duke of Roxburghe, Lord Crewe and Lord Strathmore
  • In September 1777 wine merchant  and money lender William Brooks, who was the master of Almack’s, commissioned a clubhouse on St James’s Street which was finished in October 1778
  • Allmack’s members were invited to join and they all moved
  • However, Brooks himself died in poverty in 1782

Source: Brooks’s 

At a meeting in February 2021, Mr Chiappini was notified of his redundancy.

Employment Judge Tamara Lewis said: ‘[Mr Chiappini] says Mr Curbbun was biased against him, which is clear from the ‘inhumane’ way he was treated in 2018/9 when he complained about his colleague’s harassment, and again over his visit to France.

‘It seems harsh to have issued him with a warning for false allegations… However, that was a long time ago and it all appears to have been resolved.

‘I do think that Mr Curbbun’s attitude towards [Mr Chiappini’s] absence to look after his parents in France was very harsh indeed. I am extremely surprised he issued a final written warning over the matter.

‘Although I think the club could have been more sensitive on both those issues, there is no evidence of any connection with the redundancy marking.

‘I am conscious that this incident happened only a few months before the redundancy exercise. However, it does not necessarily mean that Mr Curbbun was generally biased against the claimant.

‘It might just mean he is a harsh manager, or harsh about that kind of issue, or maybe he was feeling the pressures of the pandemic himself.

‘I also note that the appraisal, which is consistent with the redundancy marking, was undertaken before the France incident, so it can’t be said that the France incident unfairly infected the managers’ views against [him].’

Mr Chiappini’s claim of unfair dismissal failed.

Source: Read Full Article