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The more people learn about my story with Pret the more the question comes up if I went to court against Pret.
Yes I did. But I withdrew.
If you are a new reader to my ordeal with Pret A Manger, you will be confused and overwhelmed as my story is very complex and long. Those who have been following since the beginning when I started to publish on my blog in May 2018 have a good picture on what I went through.
This will eventually turn into a chronological book of events.
But to briefly answer the repeated and valid question if I sued Pret or if not, then why not, which I was just asked today again on Facebook, I decided to write this in a blog and just link to it.
When I was dismissed after being bullied, manipulated, gaslighted, held low, lied to by Pret’s toxic HR department, and continuously patronized by Pret’s CEO, Clive Schlee, who is not willing to label products for allergen information but was willing to label me his “late night girl” after the ordeal I went through… when I was dismissed three days after Christmas 2017 with my dad in intensive care just woken out of a coma, I filed a Tribunal claim as soon as I was able to in February 2018 as you have 3 months minus 1 day to file a claim.
In the meantime I was flying back and forth again between London and Germany to be with my dad (who was in hospital since 10.11.2017) as best I could on his bed side and then later in rehab. In the middle of all this I started to prepare for the Tribunal claim which would have happened in September 2018 with the first preliminary hearing in April 2018.
But I had no legal aid as I cannot afford lawyer fees. I scrapped all legal information together as best as I could, going from Citizen Advise Bureau to other free legal advisors to online researching back and forth, while also flying back and forth between London and my father’s bed side.
For people in the USA to understand, the legal system in the UK or in Europe in general is very different to the USA. Since 2015 on and off I contacted various law firms including pro-Bono, no-win no-fee firms, I even had a lawyer for a while who advised me for free. But I had to find out later again that he only wanted to make a quick buck by settling with Pret and get his 30%+ fee from the settlement. He didn’t really advise me properly anyway and even gave me some false advise at times which I later found out when I continued to do my “homework” researching online. I rejected four settlement offers from Pret, three while still working in Pret, and the fourth one via negotiating with the ACAS conciliator while withdrawing the Tribunal claim I raised and then closed. I dropped the “charitable” lawyer as soon as I found he was just looking for fast money himself.
In the USA lawyers would line up like vultures wanting to sue Pret on my behalf as the compensation can be ridiculously huge. In the UK the compensation would have maybe be maximum £10.000, maybe even more and mostly around £8000.
One former assistant manager who became homeless after being unfairly dismissed from Pret has gotten under £10K.
But 33% for the lawyer is peanuts for them to go all the way through with days and days of preliminary and then the main hearings. The free lawyer I had for a while also kept saying to me that it takes months before the hearings take place. In the UK they don’t bother for this “little” amount, while the Millions that can be won in the USA has lawyers drooling for cases like mine.
My father then died in March this year, and again I found myself crumbled under the weight of what life has thrown at me since I learned of my brother’s death in January 2015 (but he died in December 2014) and all I went through in Pret. Autopilot kicked in again, but I couldn’t cope anymore. Enough is enough. I want to die, but I want to live. I need a break.
WK 1939 – 2018
I withdrew my claim against Pret as my father died in the middle of preparing for the court case with scraps of legal advise I stumbled through, and my mental health taking another nose dive beyond basement level. But I did my homework and asked the Tribunal for the right to file a second claim later should I decide to file again. And I was granted this request.
If I will raise a second claim or if the time limit will be over, I don’t want to talk about.
But this is the reason why I withdrew my case, as it is so complex which involved the heart of Pret, the CEO, HQ, Head of HR, a Development Manager who was used to gaslight me etc. etc. etc. Unwillingly and unprecedented I poked into the heart of Pret, and for me to go all the way through to court without a lawyer going all the way with me would be suicide, as I cannot handle even small stress mentally at this time.
So, lucky for Pret I withdrew, but lucky for me I didn’t sign my rights away for peanuts. And even if Pret had offered me a huge amount, I don’t prostitute my values nor sign my rights away for life. So, I published now.
What happened to Natasha Ednan-Laperouse and her family has utterly devastated and shaken me. I wrote it before I have learned of her death, that having worked in Pret is my biggest regret in life. And now having learned of her tragedy, I am deeply ashamed to have ever given my time, effort and skill to this company, and having tried to improve work conditions from within while extremely traumatized myself. A company’s facade that does not care for people’s lives and health will get more and more cracks in time, with a glimpse behind the scenes of their carelessness.
My heart and prayers go out to Natasha’s family and friends; her brother Alex, her mum and dad Tanya and Nadim Ednan-Laperouse.
I hope in time more people will come forward, especially on the issue of suicide in Pret as well as work conditions, bullying and customer injuries. On work conditions this former employee was the first to go public, I am the second and in time I hope more will follow. And I hope Natasha’s family pursue Pret in court as they have the finances for legal aid and the public behind them now with many warnings Pret ignored.
Thank you for reading and please open your eyes to Pret and take a closer look behind the facade, as indeed take a closer look at ANY company or organization that looks too good to be true in this profit driven society today.
If you don’t take anything away from my publications, ask yourself if anyone can really smile and be “happy” for 8+ hours DAILY in an intensely high stressed work environment out of true “happiness” or if there is anything else behind this!
And my question to Pret A Manger remains: If an assistant manager died by suicide in 2017, I almost did as well after my turmoil at work, and now Natasha’s death in 2016 is revealed, HOW MANY MORE people died and/or suffered hospitalization, depression, mental health issues, physical and mental injuries in relation to Pret.
The only way I cope is to write, and to write creatively of my ordeal. I said it to Pret while I still worked there that it is a mistake to mistreat someone who suffered loss and is a writer, as that person has nothing to lose anymore. And as Madeleine Peyroux wrote so poignantly in her song “Don’t Pick A Fight With A Poet”, Pret in their arrogance and feeling invincible, #toobigtofail, again did not heed yet another warning.
Some blog entries that give a good glance behind the shiny PR(et) facade:
As my blog has grown into a maze of writings, I created a “Mind Map”, an overview to the most important blog entries for the reader not to get cluttered with posts. To understand the main issues that I have survived, please visit“My Ordeal with Pret A Manger” overview, click on the arrow next to each heading that you choose which will lead directly to posts back onto this blog. Thank you for reading.
Unless otherwise stated or linked to, this website and all writings within this site are the property of expret.org, poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org, LateNightGirl.page.tl and are protected by copyright and other intellectual property laws. Reproduction and distribution of my writings without written permission is prohibited.
When I wrote the first sentence that Natasha isn’t the only fatality in Pret, I did not know that a second customer, Celia Marsh had died in December 2017. I did ask Pret on 30.09.2018 how many more there are and included it here on the 30th, but with the other fatality I meant a suicide of staff I keep confronting Pret about.
Natasha’s death is not the only fatality in Pret.
Pret’s Director of Risk & Compliance, or more appropriately, Risk-Taking & Complacency, having known of 9 complaints regarding sesame in products, especially the Artisan Baguette BEFORE Natasha died from it.
…walking ahead, strolling on the pavement in this VIDEOcasually with his hands in his pockets as if nothing ever happened. Maybe the lady to the right behind him “ventriloquized” for him to take his hands out of his pockets for the cameras, as he briefly looked to his right, and then repositioning himself moving out of view of the camera. Nothing to worry about, because Clive Schlee does what he does best, sweet-talking Pret out of every mess! This one as well?! Certainly very impressive performance two years after Natasha’s death!
I find it also interesting that the CEO’s senior staff and lawyers stood far off on the other side of the street instead of close behind him, covering his back while he faces the public via the press. If Clive Schlee decided or was advised to face the press alone, while Mr. Perkins and legal advisors coward behind him out of view of the camera, with him later also walking alone through the mine field of the press, only he knows. But it shows what I experienced in Pret for 10 years, there is no “one for all and all for one” principle in Pret, the “family” illusion that Clive Schlee loves to portrait has always annoyed me, as the reality is Pret being a brutal and dishonest profit driven company, or a very dysfunctional family at best, breaking down as the mask is falling and the public starts to see the true face.
Jonathan Perkins gave a very poor response in the inquest which not only has many people perplex but angry:
Quote from this news report: “I accept that a number of individuals have had a negative experience, even a tragic experience, but thousands of customers and allergy sufferers shop with us safely.”
He might as well have said: ‘…a number of individuals have had a negative experience, even a tragic experience, but thousands of customers and allergy sufferers balance on the rope of potential allergic reactions without falling off‘.
Let’s just blame the law and the shops, shall we, and disgracefully Natasha herself? If you as the reader is blaming Natasha and her family, please go away from my website, buy yourself a coffee in Pret and stay lulled in from the PR(et) facade! Just click my website away, I don’t want your audience! I am not writing for you!
Perkins completely disregards a person’s death AND 9 previous complaints (with 1 also almost fatal) to thousands of customers who mingle their way through the dangers of allergic reactions due to lack of labeling! The lack of labeling is still happening TODAY (29.09.2018) as a friend just wrote to me having visited Pret on the weekend checking the labels.
Perkins further says after being asked what he has learned from Natasha’s death: “The father in me would want to change everything. I would give anything for this not to have happened. We try to do our best for our customers, but humans are fallible. Despite our best efforts and intentions we will get things wrong.”
This response not only angers many people including me, but it shows the core of Pret’s repeated negligence, and in my opinion plain arrogance in how they deal with many issues, not even putting on the brakes regarding life and death issues. For one, he had to admit due to Pret’s complaint logs, that he knew of the 9 previous complaints before Natasha died, but NOTHING was done! The father in him would want to change everything?? He missed a minimum of 9 opportunities to change EVERYTHING! And to excuse a death and negligence with just being human and fallible is outrageous and sickening, especially since Pret expects perfection from their shop staff and penalize employees easily for the smallest mistakes, mainly blaming downwards!! I survived being penalized and bullied even during traumatic bereavement.
Jonathan Perkins walking with his hands in his pockets, not taking responsibility, not resigning but hiding behind Clive Schlee from the camera’s view speaks volumes of Pret’s core values of “doing the right thing naturally”.
“It’s what makes Pret, Pret”!
Heartbroken for Natasha and her family!
The self-assured and patronizing response from Clive Schlee, CEO to an open letter in 2015 will also shed enough light behind the shiny PR(et) facade that gets more and more cracks by the public exposure of the fact that people, customers as well as staff, get hurt physically and mentally:
Maybe Pret can learn from London’s Royal Festival Hall café. I used to chuckle when I ordered a coffee before a concert when I saw this sign of a “Honey NUT Tart” visibly loaded with nuts and the price tag saying: “Contains Nuts”! I thought it funny and made this photo, but now I don’t laugh anymore! Apologies to all allergy sufferers! The RAH’s diligence makes sense now! And this photo I made as far back as 2013 or 2014.
Heartbroken for Natasha’s family, who like all people who have lost loved ones due to neglect in unnecessary and avoidable deaths, say that they hope Natasha’s death will lead to change and save lives.
I join that hope, but I also hope that the top leadership of Pret resign or get dismissed and prosecuted, mainly because of the high and unattainable standards they expect of their staff, while themselves hiding behind a facade and their millions and hurting people. I myself have given Pret the benefit of the doubt one too many times while I was bullied, gaslighted, manipulated and ultimately dismissed during bereavement with my dad in intensive care, just out of a coma.
Pret does NOT care for people nor the health of customers and staff alike until caught publicly. The time has to come that the top leadership are called out to take responsibility away from the sweet-talking slogans they are so effectively known for.
That makes two voices already… And since news of Natasha’s death broke, more positive reviews seem to appear in support of Schlee and Pret. It doesn’t matter how many rally around the CEO and the company, a person died, others were hospitalized and suffered scary reactions to products.
How many more have died that we don’t know about if Natasha’s death that happened in 2016 just comes to light now? How many died of food allergies or staff by suicide that is under the carpet?
When is the day, Clive Schlee, when, with you being “deeply” sorry for Natasha’s death two YEARS after she died because this is public now? When is the day?
Dear Clive Schlee,
could you please stop the PR(et) machine, put on the brakes and truly live up to your slogans to do “meaningful” change? Could you please bring real change for customers’ lives as well as for staff?
Your demands and slogans towards staff to “go the extra mile”, “strive for perfection”, and the most ridiculous of all, Pret “doing the right thing naturally” will always come back to haunt you. I know neither staff nor yourself can live up to micro-managing and fear managing slogans you have had in place for too long. Changing those would be a good start.
You calling me your “late light girl” two months before I was dismissed while my dad just came out of his coma in intensive care, knowing how I suffered during bereavement under your and HR’s leadership, or the lack thereof (!), almost losing my life as well, staff suffering… and you still do business as usual!
You are no “undercover boss” who is oblivious on what’s going on in your company, you are present in Pret like no other CEO. You are very very aware of what is happening inside and outside of Pret. There is no excuse of the suffering of PEOPLE, of customers and staff alike.
Unless you truly change the slogans, the labeling and other health & safety issues, including mental health & safety not just “on paper”, starting by having enough staff on the shop floor instead of cutting labour to increase your millions, as well as having real and more than adequate training in place… until you truly live what you preach this will keep happening and the crack in your PR(et) facade will widen.
Pret is still small and intimate enough to make a real change that wouldn’t be just “meaningful” but life-saving as well as enhancing physical and mental health!
Please heed. Please change direction, sir, or resign and make way for a CEO who would truly care for all people’s lives (customer and staff alike), for their physical and mental health.
Your Late Night Girl!
P.S. And dear Pret, could you please NOT task anyone to contact me, as a former team leader colleague of mine whom I used to highly respect, until I learned of his lies, called and then texted me two days ago, whereas in over three years I haven’t heard from him and him having lied in an investigation hearing that I raised because I was bullied by our then line manager. I immediately asked him to not contact me again and go back to Pret to which he replied that he contacted me “by mistake”. Of course, he did! Please, you should know by now, especially after gaslighting me via this person, that I won’t fall for your toxic and corrupt HR department’s tricks anymore. Thank you!
I worked at Pret A Manger and survived systemic workplace bullying during bereavement that involved HR, the top leadership, HQ and even the now “retired” former CEO Clive Schlee. I declined 4 settlement offers if I am silent about my ordeal. But I rather speak out to help others. For an overview of important blog entries of my experience with Pret, please visit “My Ordeal with Pret A Manger”. The little arrow to the right next to each heading will lead directly to the post. An incomplete list on what other Pret staff say about Pret’s bullying environment: Caught in the Act Bullying at Pret. I tell my story for the first time verbally in below audio player interview on a podcast by The Adam Paradox, and wrote two articles in the Scottish Left Review. Thank you for reading/listening.