A shop assistant at John Lewis’ Oxford Street store accused of repeatedly slapping a colleague’s bottom did not behave inappropriately, an employment tribunal has decided.
Forty-year-old furniture department worker Konstantinos Kalomoiris claimed that 68-year-old Bianca Revrenna had slapped his bottom three times – in the run-up to Christmas 2009 and again in April last year.
However, the tribunal decided that Kalomoiris was very sensitive and more easily offended than normal, while Revrenna was “perceived by colleagues as a kind, caring person and a motherly figure.
“She is a tactile person but there is nothing sexual in the contact and no one else has ever perceived in that way or complained about it,” said tribunal chairman Harjit Grewal.
“She was an older colleague who was trying to support [Kalomoiris]. She did not intend to cause him offence. A reasonable person in the claimant’s position would not have felt that his dignity had been violated. We find there was no harassment.”
Revrenna said she had only ever patted her colleague’s lower back in a gesture of friendliness.
The tribunal also dismissed Kalomoiris’ assertion that he was victimised by his managers when they allegedly laughed at him over the incidents.
Kalomoiris had made complaints about some 15 colleagues in total, investigating which John Lewis would have spent “considerable time and effort”, the tribunal acknowledged. It also found that there was no culture of bullying at the retailer’s flagship store.
Despite the finding in John Lewis’ favour the retailer was not awarded costs.