Waitress referred to as 'the black girl' loses discrimination case

Hippodrome casino waitress, 39, who was told to ‘grow up’ after rowing with colleague and referred to as ‘the black girl’ when she fell over loses age and race discrimination claims

  • Merona Mariotti, 39, was told to ‘grow up’ by her supervisor after an argument
  • She claimed she was referred to as ‘the black girl’ when she fell over
  • She worked at the Hippodrome in Leicester Square, but was made redundant

A Hippodrome casino waitress who was told to ‘grow up’ after rowing with a colleague and referred to as the ‘black girl’ when she fell over has lost age and race discrimination claims.

An employment tribunal heard that Merona Marcello Mariotti, 39, had an argument with another waitress over a glass, and claimed she was told to ‘grow up’.

But a judge said this was an appropriate way to tell a colleague they are behaving in a ‘childish’ fashion and was not age discrimination.

The casino worker – who is of mixed race (Italian and Eritrean) – also said she fell over on shift and hurt her wrist.

When her supervisor called for help, she claims she shouted ‘the black girl fell down’.

But the judge also dismissed this was race discrimination, saying the supervisor likely couldn’t remember her name on a busy shift and used ‘black girl’ as a way of identifying who needed help. 

The tribunal, held in Central London, heard that Ms Mariotti worked a zero hour contract at the Hippodrome in Leicester Square (stock image) 

The tribunal, held in Central London, heard that Ms Mariotti worked a zero hour contract at the Hippodrome in Leicester Square.

During a shift on August 11, 2019, she had a disagreement with another waitress – known as Safia.

The tribunal heard the ‘dispute’ arose between them about Safia ‘picking up (or not picking up) a glass’.

Safia told their bar supervisor – Maria Krasovska – that Ms Mariotti had been very rude to her.

After the complaints, Ms Krasovska met with Ms Mariotti and allegedly told her ‘not to expect the youngsters to do the work’.

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According to the waitress, Ms Krasovska said she was older so she had to cover younger employees in carrying out their work obligations.

Ms Krasovska told the tribunal that this was a ‘misinterpretation’ of her words.

Recalling the conversation, Ms Krasovska admitted to telling the woman she should have been the ‘wiser’ and ‘bigger person’ because she is an adult, and Safia is a lot younger.

Ms Krasovska told Ms Mariotti to ‘grow up’ and advised her ‘not to quarrel with a younger waitress’, suggesting she ‘behave in a more grown up way’.

In November 2019 she launched a grievance about the way she had been treated. In October 2020 she was made redundant and then tried to sue the company for age and race discrimination.

Regarding the ‘grow up’ remark, Employment Judge Sarah Goodman said there was a ‘fractious dispute’ between Safia and Ms Mariotti.

‘We concluded that being told to ‘grow up’ indicated that Ms Krasovska thought the claimant had behaved an immature way and should have been more restrained,’ she said.

‘It is a commonplace to condemn as ‘childish’ quarrelsome and impulsive behaviour which is characteristic of children, but which adults are expected to have overcome, and to refer to responsible actions and attitudes as ‘grown-up’.

‘We did not consider that the claimant being taken to task by Ms Krasovska for her quarrel with Safia was less favourable treatment because of the claimant’s age.

‘She was being told that she should have behaved better.’

Ms Mariotti – who is of mixed race (Italian and Eritrean) – also failed in her race claims.

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The tribunal heard that during one shift, she fell over and injured her wrist after which Ms Krasovska called out to seek help, and shouted ‘the black girl fell down’.

Judge Goodman said: ‘Ms Krasovska supervised around 200 staff.

‘She may well not have been able to remember, in the middle of a nightshift, [Ms Mariotti’s] name, and used ‘black girl’ as a way of identifying who needed help.

‘We could see nothing unfavourable about the way the claimant’s injury was handled; anyone else’s injury occurring in the circumstances would have been handled as it was.’

The waitress also said that it was unfair how she could only have a 30 minute break in a 10 hour shift whilst her colleagues that smoked were allowed 10 to 15 cigarette breaks a day.

The waitress said that not having additional breaks was unfair, and because of both race and age.

However, the tribunal heard evidence from managers at the casino who said she was entitled to an additional two 15 minute breaks, had she wished.

Dismissing her claims, Judge Goodman said: There was no evidence other than the ‘black girl’ remark in August, and the conversation about Safia, to support a conclusion that her race or age had anything to do with this.

‘We concluded that not asking for breaks was why she did not get them.’

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