A six-foot tall Tesco worker has won just almost £50,000 in a sex discrimination case after he was trapped in a room and ‘intimidated’ by his 5ft 4ins female boss.

Toby King complained that Jo Francis, his manager, ‘falsely incommunicated’ him at work. His bosses ridiculed the claims. They believed that a “big man” couldn’t feel scared by a “little pregnant lady”.

However, he was found guilty of sexual discrimination by a tribunal. His bosses did not take Mr King’s claim seriously because of his difference in size.

The supermarket giant has now been ordered to pay him a total of £47,690.61 in compensation, including more than £31,000 for ‘injury to feelings’.

Five months pregnant, Ms. Francis put her foot against the door and physically prevented Mr King’s exit during an argument about his working overtime, as the Employment Tribunal heard.

He was a ‘vulnerable’ man because he had PTSD from being ‘held hostage’ by the Prison Service – Tesco managers, including Ms Francis, knew of his condition.

Toby King, a six-foot tall Tesco worker has won just almost £50,000 in a sex discrimination case after he was trapped in a room and 'intimidated' by his 5ft 4ins female boss (file picture)

Toby King, a six-foot tall Tesco worker has won just almost £50,000 in a sex discrimination case after he was trapped in a room and ‘intimidated’ by his 5ft 4ins female boss (file picture)

After he failed to turn up at work every day, he was fired. He claimed that the incident had caused a “relapse” and made it impossible for him to leave his home ‘without crying.

Watford tribunal learned that Mr King was working as a customer assistance at Tesco in Aylesbury Bucks in May 2018.

He was also employed by Aylesbury Fire Services and was trying to get a job as an electrician.

The PTSD medication was changed and Mr King experienced periods of work absence. Ms Francis also knew that he had the condition.

She reprimanded Mr King in December 2018 for not being flexible in offering additional hours during the Christmas period.

The tribunal was told by him that this was “a slap in his face” as he tried to be as flexible as possible while still maintaining balance with other commitments.

Later, Mr King spoke with Ms Francis to discuss his views on working more shifts.

However, during the meeting Mr King stated to his manager that he was uncomfortable staying in the same room as her. He then went on to say that he would ‘open the doors to go’.

Toby King said manager Jo Francis, who is 5ft4 and was pregnant at the time, prevented him from leaving a meeting about Christmas shifts at the Tesco branch in Aylesbury, Bucks

Toby King claimed that Jo Francis, a manager at 5ft4, was pregnant and prevented him leaving a meeting on Christmas shifts at Tesco’s branch in Aylesbury. Bucks

Ms. Francis “put her hand towards the door” to stop it opening, then put her foot against the door before “holding Mr King’s arm as he attempted to leave through the partially open door”.

The tribunal was provided with CCTV images of the incident.

The tribunal reported that King seemed to have become more anxious, borderline desperate and able to squeeze through the doors.

Following his exit, an irritated Mr King questioned another manager and demanded “What gave Ms Francis permission to keep me from going?”It was.

An additional manager was present, and he ‘dismissed Mr King’s claims as Ms Francis would not, being a pregnant woman.

Joe O’Halloran’s manager didn’t even bother to check the CCTV, as he believed that Francis, being heavily pregnant at the time of his arrest was vulnerable. He would not have allowed any kind of altercation to occur in order for Francis’ baby’s safety.

The tribunal heard O’Halloran tell it that he was simply saying this [it was]A Mr King is someone who is larger than a person of the same size as you.

“Ms. Francis was in an extremely vulnerable situation… [It is]You can reasonably assume someone would not want to be in danger.

Employment Judge Judith George stated that “It’s clear…that Mr O’Halloran didn’t take Mr King’s complaints seriously.”

Lee Murphy, a store manager claimed that Ms Francis wasn’t threatening to him.

Judge George found that managers could be influenced by their relative size – Mr King was a large man, and Ms Francis was a small pregnant lady’.

Judge Francis added that she did not believe Mr King would feel intimidated or take seriously her actions because he was 6ft tall and she is 5ft 4ins. 

His GP signed Mr King off as ‘unfit for work’ in February 2019. He provided Tesco with sick notes but was then dismissed from the company due to unauthorised absences, and ‘failure of keeping in touch’ following his failure to attend a disciplinary hearing.

Tesco claims that the notes were not received.

Judge George found that Tesco hadn’t reasonably conducted an investigation into Ms Francis’ conduct, as well as the claims of harassment and intimidation against her. He also dismissed Mr King for harassment related to sexual activity.

Judge George stated that Mr King’s female employees would have not been dismissed if they were in the same circumstances.

Judge concluded, “There wasn’t any gross misconduct that would justify summary dismissal.”