A firm that had featured on Dragon\’s Den was found to have illegally deducted wages by the Leeds Employment Tribunal last month and was ordered to repay an employee £940.
Igloo Thermo-Logistics, which had appeared on BBC 2\’s hit show \”Dragon\’s Den\” and received £160K from two of the investors, was instructed by Judge Whittaker to repay Dennis Storrer of Pontefract, a driver employed by the company, £240 for unlawful deductions from wages, and £700 for not correctly following provisions of the Employment Rights Act.
Storrer asserts that in February 2009 he was told to drive a load out of the depot, which he had already asked to be reloaded, concerned that it had been incorrectly and unsafely stacked. After allegedly being told to take the load or face dismissal, he drove it out but, within 10 metres, stock had fallen out of the vehicle\’s side door and was damaged. An internal company investigation held Mr Storrer liable and gave him a written final warning and docked his income. Storrer, a member of Unite the Union, contacted his representative.
Speaking today, Mr Storrer said \”I was happy with the judgement. The company won the South East 2007 Start-Up Stars Award and they say on Dragon\’s Den that they are a good employer, but when they punish you, they take wages off. I was supposedly one of their best drivers, and I\’ve had to go all the way to Tribunal.\”
In Tribunal, the judge told Anthony Coates Smith of Igloo Thermo-Logistics that they company did not have the right to reduce remuneration without written the employee\’s written consent, but only a right to demote. \”There appears to have been a failure to understand the basic principles of employment law….You are clearly seeking to give with the right hand and take away with the left. It is a fundamental principle of employment law that an employee is to be paid a certain salary…. You cannot use pay to penalise poor performance. Only if you have the written agreement of the employee are you entitled to reduce that pay.\”
Daniel Kindell of Morrish Solicitors, acting for Unite and Mr Storrer, said today \”The judge expressed his dissatisfaction with the Company\’s methods. Wages are an extremely important part of an employee\’s terms and conditions and Mr Storrer\’s case reminds employers they cannot deduct amounts from an employee\’s wages without a clear, written agreement. The case is also a reminder to employees of the real benefits of joining a Union, especially in these times. Union members finding their pay deducted should contact their Union as soon as possible.\”
The two \’Dragons\’ are pictured on the company\’s website visiting as a follow up of the show.