Office pizza party reject wins $32,000 discrimination settlement

Who knew Pizza Fridays could be so expensive?

A worker at a car dealership was recently awarded more than $32,000 in compensation after her bosses didn’t invite her to monthly chow-downs events at the office, according to a report.

The Sun reported that Malgorzata Lewicka — a telephone receptionist and service advisor at a Hartwell, a Ford car dealership in the UK — was excluded from once-a-month events that were dubbed “Pizza Friday,” where the managers would order takeout food like fish and chips or pizza.

No pizza for you

Lewicka, who started at the dealership in 2014, began to have issues at the company in 2018 when she submitted complaints about her pay, working hours, and alleged sexual discrimination against her boss. Lewicka’s boss was reprimanded and she was transferred to a different dealership branch in Watford, which is where she began to be excluded from the company lunch.

Lewicka said that she was not invited to company lunches held on the last Friday of every month. She claimed that “other employees were asked but she was not asked if she wanted to order food or participate.” She was let go from the company in 2019, according to the report.

“We accept that the lunches may have been ad hoc and they were informal. However [Miss Lewicka] gave clear evidence that at Hemel a manager went around the site taking lunch orders and that she was included,” employment judge Jennifer Bartlett ruled.

Bartlett added: “However when she moved to Watford she was not asked if she wanted to order or participate whereas other colleagues were. She could have been asked if she wanted to join in.”

Hartwell claimed that Lewicka was excluded from company lunches because she was a part-time work and finished work by 1 p.m. The company also said it wanted to make her position full-time, which is why she was let go. However, a judge wasn’t buying that excuse.

“[Miss Lewicka] as a single woman with child care commitments has suffered a disadvantage from [Hartwell’s] requirement that Service Advisors work full-time namely she was selected for redundancy and dismissed,” the judge said, according to the report.

So, Pizza Friday became a payday unlike any other. Lewicka was awarded £23,079 (roughly $32,580) as compensation for being excluded in addition to loss of earnings.

This isn’t about pizza, it’s about inclusion

It’s unknown how many Pizza Fridays have resulted in payouts of this magnitude, but it is just another reminder of how important workplace inclusion is.

SHRM defines inclusion as: “the extent to which each person in an organization feels welcomed, respected, supported and valued as a team member. Inclusion is a two-way accountability; each person must grant and accept inclusion from others. In such an environment, every employee tends to feel more engaged and is more likely to contribute to the organization’s business results.

“This type of environment requires people from diverse backgrounds to communicate and work together, and to understand one another’s needs and perspectives—in other words, to demonstrate cultural competence.”