Alyn Williams wins £57,000 in damages from The Westbury Hotel

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Michelin starred chef Alyn Williams wins £57,000 in damages after unfair dismissal case against The Westbury Hotel

Related tags: Alyn williams, Fine dining, Restaurant, Hotel, Michelin, Employment tribunal

Chef Alyn Williams has been awarded just over £57,000 in damages for unfair dismissal from his role at The Westbury Hotel in London's Mayfair.

Williams was sacked as chef-patron at his eponymous Michelin-starred restaurant in The Westbury in October 2019​ without any notice period or payment for his notice period, after he entertained friends on a Sunday lunchtime when the restaurant was closed.

Late last year an employment tribunal heard that Williams, who opened the restaurant in 2011, was suspended by his bosses at the hotel for gross misconduct and eventually fired.

However, the chef was ruled to have been dismissed unfairly​ by the hotel's owners because he had previously been allowed to hold private parties at the restaurant, and had done so on numerous occasions.

Williams, who earned £116,000 a year, has now been awarded £57,176 at a remedy hearing, with the chef arguing that as well losing out on his normal salary after being dismissed from the role in 2019, he would have been furloughed with the rest of the staff at The Westbury during the pandemic if still employed, and would also have received a Christmas bonus.

The tribunal previously heard that each time Williams held a private event he brought in his own food and drink, and just used the restaurant as a venue.

CCTV footage of the event in question, which took place in July 2019, showed two young guests kicking a soft football in the dining room and taking sugar lumps from bowls laid out for guests.

As a result, Williams was issued with disciplinary proceedings and sacked for holding the event without their permission.

However, tribunal Judge Pavel Klimov described the disciplinary procedure as a 'side show' and concluded that the managers were acting because of what hotel owner Azad Cola wanted rather than because Williams was guilty of misconduct.

The tribunal was told that the hotel delayed announcing his dismissal until after the Michelin Guide was published in November, because they feared the restaurant would lose its star once his departure was made public, an outcome that did eventually take place.

Although he found that Williams had been unfairly dismissed, Judge Klimov said that the chef had been partly to blame.

"I find that (his) conduct, in so far as it relates to him allowing children to play in the restaurant with a football and by facilitating it by setting up improvised goals and by not supervising them properly thus allowing them to engage in other activities which could reasonably be seen in that setting as being objectionable (taking sugar cubes with their hands from sugar bowls on the tables laid for breakfast, jumping, wrestling and doing headstands on the sofa-bench) was culpable.

"I find it went beyond the scope of his permission to use the restaurant to host private events, it was disrespectful and caused offence to the owners of the restaurant. The claimant admits that it was 'silly'."

Concluding, Judge Klimov said: "The true reason for (his) dismissal was because the management was either directly instructed by Mr Cola to dismiss (him) or they had understood that Mr Cola wished the claimant to be dismissed.

"I find (they) did not have reasonable grounds to believe (he) was guilty of the misconduct. It was known that (he) had been using the restaurant for private events and those events involved children playing in the restaurant."

Williams, who was named National Chef of the Year in 2012​​​, is understood to still be working with The Pepper Collective on plans to open his own restaurant​​, most likely in the capital.

A hearing in March to determine the chef's payout heard he made various attempts to find alternative employment after being dismissed from The Westbury Hotel.

Williams worked as a consultant to an airline, was hired to cook at the World Economic Forum in Davos in February last year, and also provided recipes to Box Fresh.

In October last year, he started work as a private chef to a wealthy family, but was dismissed when the family contracted Covid-19 and he refused orders to attend their home to continue his work.

Earlier this year Williams launched his own at-home meal kit business called Alyn Williams at Home. 

Related topics: Chef, People

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