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Waiter at Italian restaurant wins unfair dismissal claim

A waiter at an upmarket restaurant has won a claim of unfair dismissal after his ‘childish’ boss broke wind while wafting the smell towards him in front of customers and burped in his face.

Edgar Simplicio claimed Alessandro Cretella, owner of the popular Italian restaurant L’antipasto in Battersea, south west London, deliberately burped in his face and even asked him whether he would like to see a picture of his faecal matter.     

In one incident, Mr Simplicio alleged the boss broke wind loudly in front of customers and wafted the smell towards him – leaving him ‘frozen’ for a few moments. 

Following a massive row in the restaurant, loud enough to be overheard by customers, Mr Simplicio resigned. 

An employment tribunal has now ruled that the waiter was unfairly dismissed due to the ‘unreasonable conduct’ of his boss leaving him no option but to quit.   

Edgar Simplicio claimed Alessandro Cretella, owner of the Italian eatery L’antipasto (pictured) in Battersea, south west London, broke wind while wafting the smell towards him in front of customers

Mr Simplicio started working at L’antipasto as a waiter in September 2007.  

The tribunal heard Mr Cretella, who took over the restaurant in October 2016 from his father Alfonso, suffered from oephophagitis which causes him to have excessive gas. 

While Mr Simplicio knew about Mr Cretella’s medical condition, he described his boss as ‘disgusting and puerile’.

He told the tribunal Mr Cretella broke wind loudly in front of customers and wafted the presumed smell towards him while grinning in late 2019.

Mr Cretella denied that the incident took place but admitted he did have a ‘childish sense of humour’.    

Mr Simplicio also told the tribunal Mr Cretella called him over on a number of occasions and deliberately burped loudly, sometimes into his face.  

He recalled an occasion early in 2020 when Mr Cretella said in a light-hearted way to his wife ‘Edgar doesn’t like my burps’. 

Mr Simplicio added his boss approached him at the beginning of 2020 and asked ‘if he would like to see a photo of his faecal matters’, which he declined.  

He said Mr Cretella often used ‘unfiltered language about his own bodily functions and other inappropriate subjects’.

In evidence Mr Cretella denied the incidents regarding breaking wind and burping but the tribunal ruled that they probably did take place, ‘given Mr Cretella’s childish sense of humour’.

The tribunal also heard Mr Cretella ‘had the habit of lying down’ on one of the restaurant’s side benches in full view of customers while they were eating.

Mr Simplicio took a photograph of Mr Cretella asleep in March 2020 and added that his boss sometimes walked around with no shoes while serving in the restaurant.

An employment tribunal at the South London tribunal centre in Croydon ruled that the waiter was unfairly dismissed due to the 'unreasonable conduct' of his boss

An employment tribunal at the South London tribunal centre in Croydon ruled that the waiter was unfairly dismissed due to the ‘unreasonable conduct’ of his boss 

He added he would come across Mr Cretella’s used toothpicks and dental floss littering the bar area and it was left to him and colleagues to clear these away.

He was highly critical of Mr Cretella to the tribunal, calling him ‘unprofessional and inept’.

The tribunal heard the pair came to a head in August 2020, after Mr Simplicio had been underpaid for a year. The tribunal described this as the ‘final straw’.

Following the loud row, Mr Simplicio responded: ‘I can’t have you speaking like that to me.’  

He was signed off work for stress and anxiety for a week until August 10, 2020 when his three week holiday began.

When he returned, the pair had a meeting which Mr Simplicio resigned at the end of.

The panel ruled that the resignation was the result of a constructive dismissal and was therefore unfair, entitling Mr Simplicio to compensation.

In its judgement it said: ‘Mr Cretella’s evidence that he tried not to dwell on his medical issue so as to maintain a level of confidence as it was a bit embarrassing goes some way to explaining (but does not fully) what he described as his childish sense of humour.

‘The Tribunal concludes that burping near [Mr Simplicio], loudly breaking wind and wafting the smell and asking [Mr Simplicio] if he wanted to see a photo of his faecal matters were inappropriate and amounted to unreasonable conduct.’

Regarding the angry row, the judge added: ‘[Mr Simplicio] cannot be expected to put up with the behaviour Mr Cretella displayed on that day.

‘This conduct is so serious as to be likely to seriously damage the relationship of trust and confidence, there was no reasonable and proper cause for such an extreme reaction. Mr Cretella later apologised but by then it was too late.’

Compensation will be decided at a later hearing. 


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