Female Employee Awarded Almost £12,000 in Sexual Harassment Claim
In the case of Mrs T Chard v Jasper Byrne Ltd a female employee was successful in her claim against a male employee for sexual harassment.
The Facts in Mrs T Chard v Jasper Byrne Ltd
Mrs T Chard (the “Claimant”) commenced employment with Jasper Byrne Ltd (the “Respondent”) on 26 May 2021 as a part time administrator working 20 hours per week. She was a parent to 6 children. The Respondent’s business mainly involved processing lambskins for sale and export. Mr Barry Lewis was responsible for checking and overseeing her work.
The Claimant argued that, during the course of her employment, she was subjected to comments and behaviour by her manager Mr Barry Lewis which amounted to sexual harassment, examples being:
- comments made in her presence referring to another colleague as “camel hoof” and stating, “I bet you could get your head in between her legs”;
- called “Knob job, Dickhead, Tosser and Fuckface”;
- called “Fuckface” and “she even answers to Fuckface”;
- showing the Claimant a video clip from Strictly Come Dancing and saying, “I would love her legs wrapped around me”:
- having her exit blocked by one male member of staff with Barry Lewis standing behind the Claimant and stating “Oh look we have a Tamara sandwich”;
- Barry Lewis urinating in the lavatory leaving the door open.
The Claimant resigned from her job on the 5 January 2022 amongst other reasons, due to “the unpleasant and harassing behaviour on the part of Mr Barry Lewis”. Shortly after she commenced a claim for sexual harassment and direct discrimination because of sex citing the 6 examples above.
The Decision of the Employment Tribunal
The tribunal in a unanimous judgment decided that the Claimant had been subjected to sexual harassment and was awarded £11,976.06 in compensation. They found that 5 of the 6 allegations had met the statutory definition of harassment under section 26 of the Equality Act 2010, namely:
A person (A) harasses another (B) if A engages in unwanted conduct related to a relevant protected characteristic, and the conduct has the purpose or effect of violating B’s dignity, or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, and humiliating or offensive environment for B.
In reaching their decision the tribunal found that 5 of the 6 allegations did take place and were of a sexual nature and related to the Claimant’s sex and constituted unwanted behaviour which the she found humiliating and embarrassing.
The tribunal did not support her case for direct discrimination in her allegation 6 as the behaviour by her manager in leaving the room open in the toilet whilst urinating was not specifically aimed at her as a woman because of her sex, and treating her less favourably. They decided that he behaved in the same way where men or women were present in the area so it was not seen as less favourable treatment because of her sex.
Our Lawyers View
Steve Norton, Lawyer at Redmans, says – “This case joins a series of other cases where male employees engage in a pattern of behaviour, attempting to dismiss comments of a sexual nature as just normal workplace banter, or in this case deny the comments were made at all.
ACAS gives a number of helpful examples on their website, which include: making sexual remarks about someone’s body clothing or appearance; asking questions about someone’s sex life; telling sexually offensive jokes”.
The decision of the Employment Tribunal can be found here