Sushi stand boss who texted colleague on WhatsApp after midnight sued for harassment

A businessman has been sued for harassment after sending a WhatsApp message to a colleague after midnight. Hemanta Mainali, a sushi chef at Waitrose, was furious at being woken up in the early hours of a Saturday morning, an employment tribunal has heard. He claimed Sumin Lohani’s message was sent to him directly – not as part of a group chat – and was a “deliberate attempt to disturb him” and even “encourage him to leave”. He responded to Mr Lohani saying it was ‘very wrong’ to bother him at this time of night, responding to the message ‘Fuck you’. The pair owned a sushi kiosk at Waitrose in Godalming, Surrey, with Mr Mainali owning 30% and Mr Lohani owning the rest. The court heard that Mr Mainali’s working relationship with Mr Lohani had deteriorated so badly that a fortnight later the couple ended up having a violent confrontation in public at the sushi counter of the high-end supermarket. He eventually left the company and sued Mr Lohani, claiming he was kicked out as part of a deliberate campaign. Judge dismisses case However, his case was thrown out after a judge ruled that Mr Lohani did not mean to bother him on purpose by sending the message after midnight. The Watford audience was told that the couple had known each other since childhood and that they both came from the same village in Nepal. The chef started working at the supermarket in June 2018 and was paid £1,500 a month, the court heard. However, the friendship between the two became ‘strained’ in January 2020 when Mr Lohani sent a rotation for the coming week to several employees via WhatsApp in the early hours of a Saturday morning. The court heard: “On January 4, 2020, at approximately 12:29 a.m., Mr. Lohani sent the program for the following week. He sent it to the employees of (the company) who would be working at the kiosk that week, including (Mr. Mainali). “He sent it via WhatsApp. He did not send it to (Mr. Mainali) only. He did not choose the time of the dispatch to annoy (Mr. Mainali) or anyone else. “He had thought people would read the message when it was convenient for them, and didn’t expect them to read/reply immediately (and no response was necessarily required, unless there was a problem during specified shifts). “(Mr. Mainali’s) phone made a sound when this message was received. This was not Mr. Lohani’s intention; he just hadn’t thought of that possibility. (Mr. Mainali) and his family were sleeping and were disturbed by the phone alert. The court heard he angrily replied: ‘It’s very wrong to post at midnight. Fuck you| to which Mr. Lohani replied: “Watch your mouth, I didn’t ask you to check now.” Several weeks later, the two had an angry confrontation at the sushi counter. Mr Lohani accused Mr Mainali of ‘getting very aggressive and trying to hit him’ as he held a knife in his hand, while the chef said his business partner tried to kick him. head while “blocking[ing] his escape. ‘Exaggerated’ clash at the sushi counter The court found that the two men’s account of the incident was exaggerated and involved only ‘pushing and shoving’. “Between the two of them before things got too heated, one realized that having a very aggressive interaction at Waitrose during opening hours was not reasonable for themselves as individuals, or for their business,” the panel found. The audience was told that Mr Mainali left the business – New Godalming Sushi Ltd – at the end of the month. He took the company to court claiming he had been the victim of a “campaign” to force him out of his job. Mr Mainali said he had been discriminated against due to “mental health issues including anxiety, insomnia and panic attacks”, and claimed he had been “bullied and verbally abused in front of the staff. However, her complaints of harassment and discrimination based on disability were dismissed. Commenting on the early WhatsApp message, labor judge Patrick Quill said: “(Mr Mainali) suggested that the January 4 WhatsApp message was a deliberate attempt to upset him and perhaps encourage him to leave. . We find that is not the case. “Even if (he) has reason to believe that he was sent to his own contact address, and not just the group contact address, this does not indicate that he was targeted or deliberately disturbed at night . “As co-owner of (the company) and also responsible for establishing the rotation lists, there is nothing suspicious that the article was sent directly to him (if that was indeed the case). However, Mr Mainali’s complaint that he was forced to leave without his contractual six months’ notice was ruled by the court as a breach of contract. He is entitled to damages and the parties must agree between themselves on an “appropriate sum”. Not all news on the site expresses the views of the site, but we transmit this news automatically and translate it through programmatic technology on the site and not from a human editor.


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