A HARDWORKING couple have been ordered to pay £460 compensation to a woman caught red-handed stealing from the till at their Highland tea room.
Anne Read was sacked after she was caught on CCTV stealing £60, and subsequently convicted of theft and given 100 hours’ unpaid community work.
But Read has now successfully sued her former employers at an employment tribunal.
Simon and Jan Hargreaves, who run the Waterfall Cafe in the village of Foyers, overlooking Loch Ness, said the decision was “patently unfair”.
Read, 43, took the couple to an employment tribunal claiming over £2,000 in unpaid holiday entitlement, lack of a written contract, and costs.
The case was heard in Inverness earlier this month and Judge Nick Hosie has now issued his judgement.
Judge Hosie said Read had a “well-founded” claim to holiday pay and awarded her £60.82.
He awarded Read a further £397.60 – the legal minimum – for the Hargreaves’ “failure” to provide her with a written contract. The judge said his decision to award the minimum was appropriate in “all the circumstances”.
The judge refused Read’s claim for her tribunal costs of £230 to be awarded against the Hargreaves.
He wrote: “While her claim was successful it was only partially so and to a very limited extent.
“The sum initially claimed was so excessive relative to the amount to which she was actually entitled, that the respondents could have had no option other than to contest the case to the full.
“The claimant’s success was so limited that I consider it to be quite inappropriate…for reimbursement of the tribunal fee.”
Following the decision, Mr Hargreaves said: “It’s just a bloody awful episode that hopefully we can rule a line under.
“Patently it’s unfair, but what can you do? The law’s the law.”
Mrs Hargreaves said: “The judge has given her the legal minimum he could, given employment law.
“Obviously we would have preferred she didn’t come out with anything. But it’s highlighted we need to have contracts in place.
“We just want to finish with everything. It was done out of sheer maliciousness. We’re not going anywhere, and hopefully she’s not going to come up with anything else.”
Miss Read was dismissed in May last year after the Hargreaves set up a CCTV camera to watch the till after another employee raised concerns.
They said she was filmed pressing “void” on the till after sales and then pocketing cash.
Read could not be contacted for comment.