Restaurant boss' Tinder comment was sexual harassment

A female manager took screenshots of a worker’s Tinder profile and asked which way he would swipe for her. Photo: Michael Cunningham

The actions of a female Christchurch restaurant manager who took a screenshot of a worker’s Tinder profile and asked him “which way he would swipe for her” was sexual harassment, an employment hearing has found.

The young male worker at Moroccan restaurant Dubba Deluxe made a complaint to the Employment Relations Authority regarding the behaviour.

Culain Walsh said his female boss made comments on his Tinder dating profile not long after he started work at the Christchurch eatery.

He told the ERA she also made other remarks “which insinuated she was keen on some form of sexual engagement with me.”

The woman sent Walsh a message with screenshots of his Tinder photos and asked him “which way would you swipe for me.”

On the dating site Tinder swiping right signals your interest in that person.

Around May 2018, Walsh made a formal complaint about sexual harassment to his general manager but said despite this the harassment continued.

Two weeks after the initial complaint the female manager was “touchy” with him, commenting on and touching his muscles, lightly prodding him in the side and touching the small of his back.

He also said the woman had snapped at staff in front of customers and told him off for laughing when doing the dishes.

Dubba Deluxe General manager, Jimmy Summerfield, organised a meeting with Walsh and the manager and she apologised.

Walsh confirmed that there was no further behaviour of a sexual nature after that meeting.

But in June, Walsh again made a complaint to Summerfield that the manager “has asked all the girls to email her anything that I do that could possibly be out of line”.

He said he felt miserable with the influence the manager had and “how she manipulates other staff”.

Walsh asked for a transfer to the Dubba Deluxe Moorhouse branch and this was arranged.

The female manager’s employment ended shortly after that.

But Walsh told the ERA his employment issues did not end there.

At the Moorhouse branch, he made claims of bullying, discrimination, and breach of contract with respect to training.

The ERA found issues were dealt with by Summerfield as they arose but culminated with an incident where Walsh put his feet on a chair in the restaurant during a break and the manager took a photo of him.

This caused a heated argument where Walsh was asked to “go outside and cool down” numerous times.

The incident ended in Walsh being suspended.

Walsh told the ERA his dismissal was unjustified and sought $30,000 global compensation and reimbursement of lost wages.

He also made claims of bullying and discrimination at the second restaurant.

He claimed the sexual harassment at the Ferrymead branch of Dubba Deluxe was not dealt with appropriately.

The ERA agreed Walsh had been sexually harassed at work but said the general manager had taken “fair and reasonable” action after Walsh complained.

On the bullying matter, the ERA found there was insufficient evidence of bullying and that some of what Walsh considered bullying was the manager insisting he complete tasks that were part of his job description.

The ERA found Walsh was “justifiably dismissed” from his role at Dubba Deluxe.

The general manager followed a “fair and reasonable process” and alternatives to

dismissal were considered.