A male John Lewis shop assistant has had his sexual discrimination claim thrown out after an employment tribunal ruled that there was no “culture of bullying” at the retailer’s flagship Oxford Street store.
Konstantinos Kalomoiris sued John Lewis following claims that management did not take his complaints of sexual harassment by a female colleague seriously.
Kalomoiris attested that 68-year old Bianca Revrenna slapped his bottom on three separate occasions even after he had asked her not to. But following a formal complaint to his manager, the furniture department worker claimed he was laughed at and told that he should be “delighted” that a colleague liked him enough to do so. He subsequently resigned.
But the employment tribunal found that Kalomoiris had “embellished” his account of the events and that he was more “sensitive” and easily offended than other people.
Harjit Grewal, the tribunal’s chairman, said: “It was apparent from the complaints that the claimant does not like physical contact. He admitted he finds things offensive that others would not….We find the claimant has embellished the complaint as he went along.”
He added that Revrenna was perceived by colleagues to be a kind, caring motherly figure, who was tactile. “But there is nothing sexual in the contact and no one else has ever perceived it that way or complained about it,” Grewal said.
The panel also found that there was no “culture of bullying” at the Oxford Street store and that managers would have spent “considerable time and effort” investigating the complaint, which included grievances against 15 other colleagues.
After the judgement, Kalomoiris told the Daily Telegraph: “I have said the truth and the whole truth. I understand that maybe I haven’t done everything in the right way, but I have never told a lie. Everything I said in my statement did happen. I just spoke the truth. If I can’t prove it, what else can I say?”
The tribunal decided not to award John Lewis costs, however, although its lawyers had applied for Kalomoiris to pay the retailer’s legal bill, which they claimed should never have been brought.