A FORMER spa manager claims staff at the five-star Grosvenor Hotel in the heart of Chester were treated like 'Victorian domestic servants'.
Joanne Givens told an employment tribunal of 'internal politics' and pressured working conditions at the Duke of Westminster's hotel in Eastgate Street.
Miss Givens, 29, was awarded more than £4,000 last Friday after the hotel was found to have breached its contract by dismissing her without any prior written/verbal warnings.
The hotel, which failed to follow proper disciplinary procedures, was also found to have unlawfully deducted about £1,749 from Miss Givens' final wage packet to cover the outstanding balance of a £3,100 car loan from the hotel.
Tribunal chairman Elaine Donnelly said the hotel had no contractual right to deduct the remainder of the loan without Miss Givens' permission.
As a result, Miss Givens was awarded two months pay, amounting to £2,500, and the hotel was ordered to pay back the outstanding loan balance.
Miss Givens, represented by her uncle, is the first person in recent times to win a tribunal against the hotel, which was represented by a barrister at the Liverpool hearing.
The Grosvenor Estate offered to settle out of court, but Miss Givens refused.
Miss Givens, who was often trusted to run the hotel during her time there, told the tribunal: 'The dismissal has been emotionally and financially damaging.'
During the tribunal, Miss Givens told how The Chester Grosvenor:
Suffered a monthly shortfall of £200,000 last year due to worldwide terrorism hitting tourism.
Gave £1,000 worth of spa treatment to the wife of managing director Jonathan Slater, despite falling revenues.
Threatened to sack a Japanese therapist due to her poor English.
Miss Givens took up her post on January 6 last year and found herself mingling with high-profile guests, including the Duchess of Westminster.
By joining the Grosvenor empire, she was allocated a Grosvenor flat in Westminster Terrace, Handbridge.
But Miss Givens was unable to afford the apartment after she was dismissed - on return from holiday last October.
She said: 'Hotel manager Ross Grieve said the achievement of £5,000 in spa revenue in my absence demonstrated what could be achieved without me. I was criticised for not achieving this previously. Later that day I was dismissed.'
Miss Givens admits she had previously been told to delegate more and improve her man-management skills, but did not believe it was a formal warning.
Her father, Tom Givens, says his daughter's face obviously didn't fit at the hotel and believes female staff were jealous of the 'new blue-eyed' member.
'Throughout my entire period of employment I had not been subject to any prior warnings and certainly did not receive any previous written warnings of any description,' said Miss Givens.
The creation of a spa was seen as a money-spinner due to reduced tourism. As a dedication to its success, Miss Givens volunteered to take a £2,500 pay cut - but increased pressure followed and she found herself alienated by the MD.
Her confidence was knocked after being told hotel finance director Hilary Peck preferred Claire Logie, deputy spa manager, for the role of manager.
'The MD told me in January that the finance director - who I was told had the power in the hotel - preferred the other candidate and that I would have to cope with internal politics,' said Miss Givens.
'Throughout my employment I had to contend with constant criticism from Miss Peck, some of which was in the presence of my staff and colleagues.'
Miss Givens, now living with her parents in Skelmersdale, said: 'I was made a scapegoat for the inability of the establishment to achieve financial targets.'
None of the claims made against the hotel or its managers was defendedby the Grosvenor Estate. Hotel MD Jonathan Slater declined to comment.