- The Washington Times - Monday, December 15, 2003

LONDON — A 4-foot-4-inch teenager took legal action yesterday because the supermarket where he had worked made him stack high shelves without a ladder.

Scott English said he had to climb up the sides of units to replenish the shelves while other members of staff — including one who was 6 feet 6 inches tall — watched.

Mr. English told an employment tribunal that he felt humiliated as customers cracked jokes, and that one colleague had suggested that the teenager should clean the shelves by walking underneath them.

Mr. English said he was made to work behind the cigarette counter, even though it was 4 feet high, and that he was victimized by his supervisor, Vera Barsby.

“She called me names … numerous expletives — always containing the word ‘little,’” he said.

After working three years at the Kwik Save store in Whittlesey, near Peterborough, he resigned because he could not take anymore, Mr. English said. He says his treatment amounted to discrimination and victimization.

Mr. English said that when he started work at the supermarket in August 2000, he was treated well by manager Laura Patterson. She always got someone taller to work with him when he was stacking shelves. But he said the atmosphere and his workload “changed significantly” when Simon Mutton replaced her as manager in April.

Mr. English said he was made to push cages around the store that were 6 feet to 7 feet tall and loaded with cans and packets to put on shelves.

“I also had to restack the shelves above the freezers. I had no alternative but to climb on the freezer lids. I felt people were laughing at me as they would make comments like, ‘Don’t jump. Life isn’t that bad.’”

Mr. English said he suffered work-related stress and depression. He was prescribed antidepressants and stayed off work for six weeks. He finally resigned because of the “unpleasant atmosphere” at the store.

He said he had never read about Kwik Save’s staff-grievance procedure because the notice was on a board six feet up in the staff canteen.

The hearing is set to continue.


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