A pastry chef, sacked after he used non-kosher jam while working at a kosher bakery, has won a big compensation payout after employment judges ruled he had been victimised and unfairly dismissed.
Cake decorator, Toufik Benali, was dismissed from Carmelli Bakeries Ltd, in Golders Green, north London, after bosses said he had committed a "gross infringement of religious rules" by using strawberry jam from Tesco in June, 2011.
Mr Benali was awarded £35,500 damages by an employment tribunal in December, last year after it found the family business guilty of "victimisation" under the Equality Act and of unfairly dismissing him.
Three judges at London's Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) have now dismissed a challenge by Carmelli Bakeries to that decision - saying it was "not perverse" - but ordered that the size of his Mr Benali's award be reconsidered.
Mrs Justice Slade, a High Court judge sitting in the appeal tribunal, said Mr Benali began work as a pastry chef at Carmelli in May, 2004 but the company's attitude towards him "hardened" after a dispute in 2008.
On that occasion, Mr Benali issued a employment tribunal claim over alleged wrongful deductions from his holiday pay and disability discrimination relating to 10 months he missed from work with sciatica between 2007 and 2008.
The untested claim was settled, but Carmelli viewed him as a "problem employee" thereafter; tensions rose further in June, 2008 when Mr Benali repeatedly complained that his duties were not adjusted for his disability, the appeal judge added.
Mrs Justice Slade said the store manager, David Carmelli, refused to accept Mr Benali was disabled. He said during last year's tribunal hearing: "If you can’t do what the job demands, you should get another job. It doesn’t make sense".
Then, in June, 2011, the conflict came to a head when one of Mr Benali's superiors discovered a receipt for two non-kosher jars of jam from Tesco, the judge added.
Mrs Justice Slade said the store operated in "strict adherence" to traditional Jewish Kedassia standards and the use of a non-kosher ingredients could have the "catastrophic effect" of being stripped of its licence by a Rabbi.
Mr Benali admitted using the jam to make a cake, knowing it was not kosher, but denied having told a cleaner to buy some at Tesco. He said he felt his employers were "simply waiting for him to do something wrong."
They were "waiting for him to do something wrong" AND HE DELIBERATELY DID SOMETHING WRONG.
I don't know what the laws are in the UK but this would be grounds for termination in the US. Also too, if he was working at a Halal bakery and slipped something Haraam into the cake. Likewise, if he was working at a Vegan bakery and slipped something non-Vegan into the cake.