Former pastry chef pursues £200,000 claim against The Fat Duck alleging work caused her repetitive strain injury

The  Staff Canteen

A former pastry chef at The Fat Duck in Bray presented her legal case against the restaurant in court yesterday, claiming £200,000 in damages after being made to do work that she said was "too fast, arduous, and repetitive."

Sharon Anderson, who worked for Heston Blumenthal's restaurant group between June 2014 and November 2015, first at the Bray restaurant and then at the Australian site when the restaurant was temporarily relocated, said that the work she was given caused her to suffer from repetitive strain injury in her wrist, resulting in "longstanding physical injuries and mental health issues."

The pastry chef is alleging that the harm caused was not only physical, but that she has suffered from depression and anxiety as a result, and has been left unable to perform essential work duties, lift heavy objects, drive or cook properly since. 

Her pursuit details the tasks which she said led to her injuries, among which, she said, she spent the best part of her working day using tweezers to individually pack 400 wrapped sweets in cellophane bags; make 180 chocolate cards holding a mould weighing two kilos when full which contorted her wrist for four and a half hours and then would spend the remaining piping 550 individual 'whisky gums.'

“The process had to be carried out under time pressure as it had to be completed before the chocolate set in each mould,” her lawyers claimed in court papers, and her barrister added that “she was essentially on what was effectively a production line,” according to The Guardian.

Additionally, she claims that she was not given adequate rest periods, support, and the restaurant "required her to work under time pressure throughout the day.”

After a brief court hearing, the judge adjourned the dispute and directed a case management conference for May 2022, which will take place ahead of a trial of her compensation claim.

The restaurant's lawyers have argued that the tasks given to the pastry chef were common practices in many fine dining restaurants and that the pastry chef's case showed a stark lack of medical evidence.

They have also stated that management moved the pastry chef to lighter duties upon her reporting her injuries, that her workload was not oppressive and that she filed her complaint too late on for the restaurant to take appropriate action. 

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 14th December 2021

Former pastry chef pursues £200,000 claim against The Fat Duck alleging work caused her repetitive strain injury