‘Bullying’ undertaker loses Employment Tribunal sex discrimination claim

MoJA ‘bullying’ undertaker has been ordered to pay one of his former female employees over £40,000 in compensation after she succeeded in suing him for discrimination.

Jon Christophers and F Christophers and Son ltd were ordered to pay £44,000 in compensation to a former female employee, Rozamund Perrin, after she claimed in the Employment Tribunal that she had been unfairly dismissed from her job and that she had been subjected to age and sex discrimination.

Ms Perrin, 64, started working for F Christophers and Son Limited in December 2009 as a receptionist at the firm’s office in Newton Abbot, Devon and continued working for the firm until 2014, when she was laid off. Ms Perrin subsequently made an Employment Tribunal claim for unfair dismissal, sex discrimination, gender-related harassment, age discrimination, and age-related harassment against both F Christophers and Son Limited and Mr Jon Christophers.

Ms Perrin’s claim came to the Employment Tribunal earlier this year. Giving evidence at the Employment Tribunal, Ms Perrin stated that the following had occurred during her employment:

  • Mr Christophers was ‘intimidating’ and a ‘bully
  • That Mr Christophers had mocked her typing, even though she had arthritis
  • That she had overheard Mr Christophers making a phone call on which he said his female staff “don’t submit to me – that’s the problem – all women should submit to me.”
  • That Mr Christophers would use the toilet, leaving it in a very unpleasant state, and then tell her it was “her job” to clean it up
  • That she had been made redundant so that a younger woman could be employed

Ms Perrin’s former colleague Kate Parsons also gave evidence at the Employment Tribunal hearing that Mr Christophers had treated Ms Perrin in a ‘belittling’ fashion and that on one occasion Mr Christophers had said to her and Ms Perrin when they couldn’t undertake a particular task: “oh look , the women have tried but couldn’t manage it”.

The Exeter Employment Tribunal ruled in Ms Perrin’s favour in her claims for unfair dismissal and discrimination, awarding her £44,000 in compensation for lost earnings and injury to feelings. Employment Judge O’Rourke commented that Mr Christophers had a ‘generally discriminatory attitude to age’ and that Ms Perrin had suffered discrimination and harassment due to her age and sex.

F Christopher and Sons Limited has indicated that it may appeal the Employment Tribunal’s ruling.

Chris Hadrill, an employment solicitor at Redmans, commented on the case: “Employers must take steps to treat staff equally and not subject them to any detriment because of or for a reason related to one of their protected characteristics (such as their age, sex, and any disability, among other things). If employers fail to treat staff equally then they may face a time-consuming and potentially expensive Employment Tribunal claim.”