Jersey tribunal finds unwanted arm around waist was ‘sexual harassment’

Picture: ROB CURRIE. (36670267)

A HOTEL employee who held a female member of staff around her waist did sexually harass her, the Employment Tribunal has found.

The tribunal awarded Annastashia Wango compensation as a result of the incident at the Royal Yacht Hotel, which was captured on the hotel’s CCTV cameras – but the tribunal dismissed separate claims of harassment and victimisation.

The panel concluded: ‘The claims for harassment and victimisation are dismissed. The claim for sexual harassment succeeds and the claimant is awarded £2,750 by way of compensation.’

Ms Wango said that the incident, involving her superior Sandro Moniz, was exacerbated as she was ‘from the Bantu peoples’ for whom being touched on the waist amounted to a serious sexual assault.

Announcing the tribunal’s findings, deputy chair Advocate Ian Jones, sitting with panel members Anne Southern and Michael de la Haye, said that trying to pigeon-hole ‘Bantu culture’ – whichembraced 400 distinct ethnic African groups or cultures speaking between 600 and 700 distinct languages – was ‘ambitious’ but he said it was, in any case, ‘more of a distraction or irrelevance than anything else’.

Advocate Jones continued: ‘In the view of the tribunal it is an uncontroversial and indeed axiomatic proposition that touching anyone, when they do not want to be touched, is entirely unacceptable. It is the more unacceptable if it happens in the workplace and in the view of the tribunal aggravated if the person doing the unwanted touching, lays their hands on a more junior employee for whom they are responsible.

‘The point the tribunal is keen to stress is that it is not Ms Wango’s ethnic heritage that makes Mr Moniz’s conduct a serious issue. It is Mr Moniz’s conduct. The tribunal considers that this proposition can be straightforwardly tested by asking itself the question: Would it have made any difference if Ms Wango was white and from Trinity?

‘It seems to the tribunal that the answer is plainly not and that the focus of the tribunal should be on the conduct of Mr Moniz and… what Mr Moniz did to Ms Wango would have been equally serious if he had done it to any other woman or man, if the conduct was unwanted for the same reason.’

Dismissing claims for harassment and victimisation – which the tribunal found had not been proved – Advocate Jones directed that Ms Wango should receive £2,750 compensation for hurt and distress to be paid within 14 days.