A Muslim man who worked as a linen porter at a UK hotel has successfully sued his employer after he won a bottle of cognac in a raffle during a staff party in 2017 but was given a ‘cheap’ box of chocolates instead, The Guardian reported.
The man, 37-year-old Zakaria Kioua, said that when he asked one of the managers at the Hampshire-based Lainston House hotel why he was denied his prize, he was told that presenting him with the bottle of brandy would have been like giving nuts to someone with a nut allergy.
Another member of the staff who knew Kioua did not drink alcohol had allegedly suggested he be given the box of chocolates instead, The Guardian reported. Kioua said that he was hurt and humiliated by his employers’ decision. Another staff member had reportedly accepted the chocolates on his behalf.
A grievance meeting was held in May 2018, where his manager Gaius Wyncoll told him, “[If] someone has got a nut allergy or a nut intolerance and they were given a box of chocolates that contains nuts do you not feel it would be appropriate that we then change that prize, you know, on the night?”
“It’s different. They don’t want that prize to be going to me and they’ve used my religion to get what they want…I felt really ignored and humiliated and not cared about,” Kioua retorted at the time.
He resigned in April, 2019 and filed a lawsuit against the hotel, which he won this year. The tribunal panel’s judgment read, “A nut allergy is an illness, a life-threatening illness. It is not an acceptable point of comparison. It minimises the importance of Mr Kioua’s beliefs and practices.”
“The point is not that [the swap] was well-intentioned. The point is that it should not have been said, just as the decision should not have been made to change Mr Kioua’s prize,” it added, according to The Guardian report. The hotel has been ordered to pay £2,000 to Kioua for “injury to feelings” plus interest.
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