AN ALDI store manager who claims he was "forced" to resign while under "unbearable pressure" has been awarded £26,000.
Barry Williams, who was hired by the German supermarket to turn around underperforming stores, was accused of misconduct by his bosses.
He quit under a cloud after it was claimed he'd hidden price tags on shop shelves to hide the fact he hadn't ordered enough stock.
But a tribunal has heard Aldi's allegations were "exaggerated" and bosses would "turn a blind eye" to similar practices if the shop was performing well.
Mr Williams resigned without notice in February 2019 after a disciplinary investigation began when he fell out of favour with bosses in 2018.
The company claimed he'd been changing staff's clocking off times to avoid breaching Working Time Regulations, the Liverpool Echo reports.
However, the tribunal has now concluded that some area managers faced "unbearable pressure" for their stores to do well.
Mr Williams was awarded a pay-out from Aldi.
In a written judgment, employment judge Dawn Shotter said: "It was [Aldi's] culture to put a lot of pressure on managers.
'HE WAS UNDER MASSIVE PRESSURE'
"Unbearable pressure was sometimes placed by the store area manager, who were also under similar pressure, on store managers.
"All were under a massive pressure to perform well on the key performance indicators, particularly store productivity, inventory and availability which transmuted into sales."
The investigation heard Mr Williams, who was working for a branch in Liverpool, allegedly hid price cards above product shelves where lines had run out.
He did this to conceal that he'd failed to order enough stock, it was claimed.
However, the tribunal found this was "widely ignored" by Aldi if they thought performance at a store was strong enough.
Mr Williams was confronted by his area manager Peter Seddon in October 2018.
He denied the accusation but then admitted he "didn't feel safe in his job" and had deliberately hidden the price cards to improve his store's performance, it was heard.
After promising he wouldn't do it again, the men agreed it was the "end of the matter".
However, Mr Seddon then made an allegation of misconduct to his bosses.
The tribunal concluded both Mr Seddon and fellow senior manager Mathew Lipscombe wanted Mr Williams out – because it was believed he was "one of the worst performers".
Judge Shotter wrote: "One way or another, whether it be through performance management or misconduct, the claimant's exit out of the business was inevitable."
She said Mr Williams' conduct had contributed to his resignation – but decided it only warranted a 20 per cent reduction in compensation.
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He had an "excellent employment record" over the 10 years he worked for Aldi, she wrote.
A spokesperson for Aldi told the publication: "Aldi is an inclusive employer and will not tolerate discrimination in any form.
"We are therefore very disappointed with the tribunal's decision, and will now take the time to consider the ruling carefully before deciding whether any further action is necessary."
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