A BBC reality TV star who took her salon’s hairdressers on a trip to Spain ended in ‘disaster’ after it descended into a drunken punch up between three of the women, an employment tribunal heard.
Sammyjo Pearson, 34, of BBC 3 series Angels of the North took her staff from Gateshead on what is alleged to have been an alcohol-fuelled ‘girls go to Magaluf’ party holiday.
One of her hairdressers – Jemma Rowe – was held responsible for a fight that broke out and suspended by the salon owner for gross misconduct.
It is alleged by owner Ms Pearson that when her mother Bev Pearson – who is also the salon manager – tried to break up the fight she had her hair pulled.
After facing disciplinary proceedings, Ms Rowe – who did not appear in the BBC series – resigned and then took her employer, Ms Pearson’s Longlox Hair Extensions, to an employment tribunal.
Her case for sex discrimination and unfair dismissal – which had its decision published today – was thrown out by the judge.
Sammyjo Pearson (pictured) of BBC 3 series Angels of the North took her staff from Gateshead on what is alleged to have been an alcohol-fuelled ‘girls go to Magaluf’ party holiday
It is alleged by owner Ms Pearson that when her mother Bev Pearson (pictured) – who is also the salon manager – tried to break up the fight she had her hair pulled
The Gatehead business has been at the heart of the BBC 3 series – which claims to involve ‘Big hair, big style, big personalities’ – since 2019.
The show revolves around owner Ms Pearson and her staff, documenting the dramas within the Tyneside salon and the stylists’ lives ‘after hours’.
And has turned the salon owner and her mother into reality TV stars who have been pictured with Channel 4’s Gogglebox celebrities and television, radio presenter and DJ Maya Jama.
The tribunal heard Miss Rowe joined Longlox in April 2015 as a hairdresser, but quit before recording of the reality TV show began.
The hearing was told she was regarded as ‘volatile and loud’ but that for the first four years of her employment her personality was ‘tolerated’.
However, in 2019 salon manager Bev Pearson began to suspect her of misconduct so as well as filming the salon staff room, the tribunal heard, so she secretly began recording what was being said as well.
The panel heard that in April of that year Ms Rowe had asked a colleague in the staff room to help her to inject a substance into her stomach – which she said was a tanning solution.
After facing disciplinary proceedings, Ms Rowe resigned and then took her employer, Ms Pearson’s Longlox Hair Extensions (pictured), to an employment tribunal
It is alleged by owner Ms Pearson that when her mother Bev Pearson – who is also the salon manager – tried to break up the fight she had her hair pulled in Magaluf (pictured)
However, when she was caught doing this on CCTV by Mrs Pearson and told off, she admitted it was a fat dissolving substance and she was warned not to do it again, the hearing was told.
The tribunal also heard she made colleagues ‘uncomfortable’ when she had a phone call with her boyfriend in the staff room and swore at him.
Sammyjo Pearson with mother Bev and Googlebox sister and brother stars Pete and Sophie Sandiford
The hearing was told that what happened that night was Miss Rowe – who had been ‘boisterous and in high spirits’ in the taxi en route to the bar in Magaluf – had got in a fight with a barmaid after having cocktails forcing bouncers to intervene.
The team bonding trip – a 10-strong party of women including Miss Rowe, Ms Pearson, her mother, other salon staff and friends – took place in June 2019, the panel was told. Alcohol was ‘free flowing and encouraged’.
‘Unfortunately, the holiday was a disaster,’ the tribunal found, as it ended in a physical fight involving Miss Rowe, fellow hairdresser Tamlyn Smith, and Mrs Pearson’s son’s girlfriend Francesca Toole.
‘It is natural to expect that a manager might regard such a holiday to be good for staff morale and to be bonding but there is no magic in it being specifically designated a ‘team bonding’ or not.
‘The intention was that everyone would go and have a good time. It was patently clear from the evidence […] that alcohol was expected to be free flowing and was encouraged.
‘We accept [Ms Rowe’s] evidence [which was not hotly disputed] that on the holiday, alcohol consumption was encouraged by (Ms Pearson) and Bev Pearson, if not necessarily explicitly, certainly by example.
‘All concerned, including the managers, had consumed a lot of alcohol.’
Sammyjo Pearson with mother Bev with television, radio presenter and DJ Maya Jama
When the fight between the three women broke out, Mrs Pearson stepped in and had her hair pulled, the tribunal was told. Whether correctly or not, Miss Rowe was blamed.
‘Whatever the cause of the fight, we are entirely satisfied that [Sammyjo Pearson] and Bev Pearson were genuinely shocked and upset by what had happened,’ the panel found.
‘Bev Pearson called her husband Matthew from Magaluf in some distress, telling him about what had taken place.
‘It is unnecessary for us to have to determine whether it was, in fact, [Ms Rowe] who pulled Bev’s hair [as opposed to Tamlyn or Fran].
‘However, we are satisfied that Bev Pearson […] genuinely believed that to be the case.’
Both Ms Smith and Ms Rowe were suspended following the holiday with Ms Smith then being fired for gross misconduct.
Pictured: British tourists enjoy nightlife at Punta Ballena street in Magaluf in Mallorca, one of main destinations for UK tourism during summer season
As part of the disciplinary process, as well as her alleged behaviour in Magaluf, Ms Rowe was also accused of being ‘aggressive, verbally abusive and threatening’ towards colleagues, using abusive language in the salon and bringing in tanning injections.
Ms Rowe then resigned before the process came to an end.
At the tribunal she made claims of sexual harassment, direct sex discrimination and unfair constructive dismissal but all of these were dismissed.
Employment Judge Seamus Sweeney said of the Magaluf incident: ‘An alleged assault on a manager is a serious allegation – had the matter proceeded to a disciplinary hearing and had [Ms Pearson] genuine and reasonable grounds to conclude that [Ms Rowe] had done as was alleged, it is not stretching things too much to say that this would highly likely have resulted in summary dismissal.’