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Constructive dismissal claim fails for technician who syphoned fuel by mouth

A technician who claimed he was driven to resign by sarcastic remarks from bosses after he swallowed petrol while syphoning fuel by mouth has lost his case against West London Motor Group.

Sheil Mavadia claimed he had been told to use his mouth to siphon fuel from a car he was working on because the WLMG dealership at Ruislip didn’t have a syphon pump.

He said he had succumbed to the order, in October 2021, because he was ‘under a lot of pressure’ to get through the required car inspections, for each of which he could receive a £15 bonus.

But the recent Watford employment tribunal for unfair constructive dismissal heard that sales director Dino Patel had not told him that the company did not have the correct equipment and had, on the contrary, expressly told him that they did have it, and told him where it was normally kept.

After swallowing some of the fuel, Mavadia felt ill and went to A&E and was off work for three weeks, the tribunal was told.

Mavadia claimed he was subject to sarcastic remarks about being “careful to not drink fuel” from company director Mehmet Obali after he subsequently returned to work, and he resigned feeling “forced out”.

Employment judge Patrick Quill ruled that it was Mavadia’s own decision to abandon the search for the fuel pump, and to use his mouth instead to kickstart the process.

Quill said while the remarks, which Obali has denied making, were “unsympathetic” he ruled that service mechanic knew Obali was joking.

“They may well have been slightly cruel jokes, and they were certainly at his expense. However, they were not intended to be taken literally, and he knew that.”

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