A RESTAURANT worker has won an employment tribunal after she turned down a romance with a male colleague - and was then forced out of her job at the Newport branch of KFC.

Simona Simalyte, 35, walked out when KFC bosses failed to protect her from "sexual harassment" by the fellow fast food worker over the spurned date.

An employment tribunal heard the colleague cornered her in the staff room at the eaterie at East Retail Park in Maesglas to ask her out for a drink after work - but she turned him down by saying: "I already have a boyfriend."

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Simona Simalyte. Picture: Wales News Service

But the hearing was told an "atmosphere of hostility" was allowed to simmer for months over the fast food fried chicken on the KFC restaurant floor.

Mother-of-one Miss Simalyte, of Newport, told how the hostility was "persistent and amounted to harassment" against her by the fellow KFC worker named only as "H".


When she complained to KFC bosses, she claimed the management response was: "So what if someone fancies you?"

She also complained that she had seen "H" staring at her through the window as she was changing her top in the staff room.

The heard a violent row erupted between the pair in the restaurant 10 months after she turned down his date.

Police were called after Miss Simalyte claimed she was assaulted by her "H" as the pair were put on same shifts together.

Nigel Henry, representing Miss Simalyte, said nothing was done by KFC management to tackle the problems between the pair.

He said Miss Simalyte claimed that being told "so what if someone fancies you" was direct discrimination because of her sex.

Mr Henry said: "We do know that nothing was done for nearly a year and we do know that a fight broke out on the shop floor.

"We don't know what his account of it is. We don't know whether he was even interviewed by police."

Mr Henry said it would be "extraordinary" if it was on "equal footing" because Miss Simalyte was a woman facing a man.

He said: "It is simply not how life works."

The tribunal, sitting in Cardiff Magistrates Court, heard no charges were made by police but "H" resigned that day.

Miss Simalyte left work on sick leave and later resigned after three years with the company.

Simon Hoyle, representing KFC, said Lithuania-born Miss Simalyte and the co-worker "did not get on and they did not speak to each other."

He said: "He asked her on a date once. She told him: 'I have a boyfriend.'

"It started and ended with an invitation to go on a date and that is as far as it went."

The tribunal heard the KFC showdown took place on August 18, 2017 - and the company denied sex discrimination and failing to protect her from harassment.

Mr Hoyle added: "Up until August 18, when this incident took place, she was happy to go to work any day."

But employment Judge Richard Powell decided that Miss Simalyte's claim of harassment was "well founded" although he rejected sexual discrimination.

He also ruled that KFC were in breach of contract for failing to pay three weeks' notice pay and holiday pay.

Judge Powell said: "His conduct was clearly related to the claimant's sex - he had expressed a romantic affection for her and his unwanted conduct commenced as a consequence of the rejection of the affection.

"We therefore find that her co-worker engaged in a course of conduct of ignoring the claimant, interfering with her work and making unwanted physical contact throughout that period.

"We find that the conduct had the purpose and the effect of violating her dignity."

KFC has been ordered to pay Miss Simalyte £801 in holiday pay she is due, while further compensation is yet to be determined.