Donna Tunkara, 32, and Yassin, 31, say they were discriminated by Morrisons
Elham Asaad Buaras
A couple from Middlesbrough say bosses at supermarket giant Morrisons religiously discriminated against them when they were refused time off during Ramadan.
Spouses Donna Tunkara, 32, and Yassin, 31, say they suffered discrimination, harassment, victimisation and constructive dismissal after bosses at Morrisons in Stockton-on-Tees turned down their holiday requests in 2012.
On April 1 a tribunal held at Teesside Magistrates’ Court heard evidence from Donna, who says her holiday request for the last 10 days of Ramadan was turned down unfairly. She added that the stress of night shifts caused her to suffer a breakdown and be admitted to hospital.
However, solicitor Philip Crowe, representing Morrisons, called her a ‘liar’ and said that she had not got the holidays she asked for because she missed a deadline – meaning all holiday time was already taken. Donna rejected accusations that she had lied, and said that she and her husband had enjoyed their job at the Stockton base. She said: “We asked for the holidays because it was too difficult to work night shifts while fasting.”
Crowe had asked her why she had not put in their holiday requests in time for the company deadline for summer requests in February.
He also challenged her over discrepancies in the dates she claimed to have had meetings with managers.Donna said she had been admitted to hospital after working a shift on August 11, 2012, and had not even recognised her husband in the immediate aftermath.
She also claimed that she had asked for time off for her and her husband between August 9 and August 22 at the beginning of March, as soon as she received a planner from her mosque telling her when Ramadan was to begin.
She says her manager Peter Woodward had taken the request while he was in a meeting with another person. Directly after, he informed the couple they would not grant the request, claims Donna.
Crowe denied this incident ever took place, and asked why she had only mentioned it in her latest witness statement. He also asked her why, after working during the first weeks of Ramadan, did she only suffer while working during the period she had asked to have off.
Donna said she had come to a compromise to work shorter, seven-hour shifts, and split her 30-minute breaks in two but the cumulative stress of working while fasting had led to her breakdown. She also said they had been denied informal 15 minute breaks other staff enjoyed on night shifts, and that her request for holidays had been treated differently to requests from other members of staff.
The case continues.