Polish care assistant awarded nearly £20,000 against care home that failed to pay her, unfairly dismissed her when she complained and racially harassed her

Our client, Elzbieta, a Polish national, worked for a local care home from July 2005 until April 2006.

She secured the job through an agency in Poland. The terms of her employment were clear. Despite this, throughout her employment, the home’s owner refused to pay her properly. She grudgingly gave her small sums when Elzbieta repeatedly asked for them but always made excuses as to why she could not pay her what was properly due to her.

In April 2006, the owner was away from the home and left her daughter in charge. On 13th April, a row ensued between Elzbieta and the daughter surrounding her contractual entitlements. When Elzbieta tried to explain these entitlements, and showed the daughter her contract, she was told “Don’t even try” and that if she did not like it she could leave.

She did leave, and with the assistance of Canterbury Citizen’s Advice Bureau, wrote to the owner for her wages. Her letter was ignored.

The CAB then referred the matter to ourselves.

Within a full grievance, followed by Tribunal proceedings, complaints were brought, on Elzbieta’s behalf, for failure to provide her with written particulars and pay slips, failure to pay her holiday pay, making unlawful deductions from wages, unfairly dismissing her for asserting her statutory rights, wrongfully dismissing her and discriminating against her, and harassing her, on racial and sexual grounds.

Following a four day hearing at the Ashford Tribunal, between 9th and 12th January, the Tribunal, in reserved judgement, upheld every single one of Elzbieta’s complaints.

In doing so, they ordered that the home’s owner pay her £18,718.01 in compensation and that the daughter pay her £1,047.84 in compensation.

The compensation included awards for injury to feelings and aggravated damages.

Nick Fairweather, who represented Elzbieta throughout, including at the hearing, commented as follows:-

I am delighted for Elzbieta. At all times she was a hard working, caring, loyal employee. She was taken advantage of as a foreign national. Once she looked to recover her money she was subjected to the most disgraceful campaign of slurs and lies against her imaginable. It took great courage for her to fight on and this Tribunal decision vindicates her absolutely.

I hope it will serve as a warning to other employers against exploiting low paid foreign nationals.