Who can resist cake? What about one slice glazed with chocolate and layered with coffee cream? Could you take just one bite?
That might sound like some challenge on a TV game show but it’s the background to a claim that proceeded in the Employment Tribunal this week, according to reports in the news.
The restaurant manager of the Godiva Chocolate Café located in Harrods had reportedly claimed a staggering £1million compensation for being sacked because he ate the whole slice of cake instead of just taking a bite to test whether it was good enough following a customer complaint.
Dismissal for eating cake – could that be fair?
The employer’s view of this was that this amounted to theft. The employee had eaten the whole slice of ‘devils’ dog cake’, presumably after deciding it tasted perfectly acceptable to him. In so doing, he had consumed company property that he had not paid for and had not been given permission to take.
The fact that this was a slice of cake that was not going to be sold to a paying customer and would have just been thrown away may be regarded as irrelevant by the employer as it is the act of dishonesty that matters.
That was the view taken when a supermarket employee pocketed a packet of ‘damaged’ cigarettes and it was held that the employer had acted fairly in dismissing the employee, despite the value of the goods in question being a mere £1.50.
Of course each case will depend on its own facts and for a fair dismissal it would be necessary to show that in taking the decision to dismiss, the employer was acting reasonably.
That’s a task though that may not be necessary for the employer in this case as the latest news report states that the claim has already been dismissed by the Employment Tribunal.
However, it is a timely reminder to those who enjoy certain vices- be that cakes, cigarettes or otherwise – to make sure they enjoy them at their own expense, rather than their employer’s!
Tesco Stores Limited v Othman Khalid EAT/385/00