“Non-Feminist” Manager Ordered to Pay Costs as ET Claims His Non-Feminist Belief is Geniuine but Discriminatory in Itself

In Mr Kevin Legge v The Environment Agency, a non-feminist manager has had his victimisation and discrimination claims dismissed. His allegation that there was an agenda against male managers and evidence of moonlighting was central to the tribunal’s ruling. Read on to discover the intriguing details of the case and the verdict handed down by the employment tribunal.

Despite the claim against the UK environmental agency proving unsuccessful, others may have faced victimisation or discrimination. If you believe you have experienced this, contact Redmans Solicitors now. We are employment law specialists and could answer your questions before assessing your eligibility to claim compensation.

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The Facts in Mr Kevin Legge v The Environment Agency

Non-Feminist Manager Opposes Equality in the Workplace

Mr Kevin Legge (“The Claimant”) began employment with The Environmental Agency (“The Respondent”) in February 2005. He eventually became the Estates Technical Manager in August 2012, assuming the responsibilities and salary of a grade 7 role.

In 2018, the UK environmental agency recruited Joanna Larmour as a manager to modernise the Estates Department. At the time, all grade 7 senior leadership roles in the department were occupied by men.

Upon joining the organisation, she became the claimant’s supervisor, and they initially enjoyed a positive working relationship. However, this changed rapidly as the non-feminist manager diverged from Ms Larmour’s vision of fostering diversity within the department. Apparently, her equality in the workplace objectives “was at odds with his non-feminist views”.

Hostility Over Performance Review

In early 2020, Ms Larmour conducted the claimant’s performance review, highlighting areas requiring improvement and assigning a rating of “approaching expectations”. Despite her confidence in him meeting his year-end goals with a structured plan, he displayed hostility and became uncooperative.

By March, Ms Larmour grew increasingly alarmed by the claimant’s lack of cooperation. Considering his childcare responsibilities during the initial Covid lockdown, she expressed concerns about his ability to meet the year-end expectations. Consequently, following discussions with HR, she offered him 12 weeks of “special paid leave” to address his childcare commitments. The non-feminist manager decided to take this leave.

Respondent Learns of Undisclosed Psychotherapist Practice

A few months later, Ms Larmour accepted a new role, meaning she was no longer the claimant’s supervisor. Soon after, he raised a grievance citing gender and workplace discrimination that centred around her.

Whilst preparing for the grievance, Ms Larmour Googled the claimant, which revealed he was a practising psychotherapist. Given that he hadn’t disclosed this outside interest, she informed his new manager, Luke Farrington, of her discovery.

The claimant’s grievance was then addressed. He learned that while it was partially upheld, the treatment he had experienced was unrelated to his gender. Notably, he chose not to appeal the outcome of his grievance.

During the interim period, Mr Farrington confirmed that the non-feminist manager advertised himself as a psychotherapist online. This prompted additional investigations, which showed that he advertised his services on three websites. Subsequently, the UK environmental agency opted to employ an inquiry agent, who scheduled an appointment with the claimant on 5 November during his contracted work hours.

Despite being at work, the claimant proceeded with the psychotherapy appointment. He requested leave at short notice to ‘deal with a burst pipe’, enabling him to become available for it.

Non-Feminist Manager Presented with Moonlighting Allegations

On 14 December, Mr Farrington presented allegations of moonlighting to the claimant. Although he confessed to practising as a psychotherapist without informing the respondent, he contested that it occurred during working hours. Additionally, he refuted the assertion that he violated the code of conduct by fabricating a burst pipe incident.

This led to the UK environmental agency undertaking further investigations to determine whether the non-feminist manager had completed unauthorised work during his contracted hours.

Thereafter, he was formally suspended on 4 March 2021. He was later invited to a disciplinary hearing, which was postponed and ultimately convened on 29 March. During the hearing, the respondent presented evidence indicating that the claimant had generated £37,500 over the preceding 13 months through over 500 appointments.

Then, on 7 April, the claimant was dismissed after allegations against him, including dishonesty and fraud, were upheld. He appealed this decision on 20 April, but this proved to be unsuccessful on 9 June. 

As such, he claimed direct discrimination on the grounds of religion and belief, sex discrimination and victimisation. He also claimed unfair dismissal, but this was later withdrawn. In summary, he alleged the respondent had an agenda against male managers and discriminated against him because of his non-feminist beliefs.

The Employment Tribunal’s Judgment

The employment tribunal began by addressing the claim of discrimination based on sex or non-belief. They highlighted how the claimant failed to provide any substantial evidence demonstrating that his treatment stemmed from his beliefs or sex. In fact, they suggested that he was “the author of his own downfall”, asserting that the respondent’s actions were solely prompted by his conduct and capability.

Moreover, they found that his non-feminist beliefs were unworthy of respect, incompatible with human dignity and conflicting with the rights of others. As such, his beliefs failed the Grainger test and were not protected by the Equality Act 2010.

The tribunal also quickly dismissed the victimisation claim. They stated that the respondent had acted perfectly reasonably and hadn’t caused the claimant to suffer a detriment.

Finally, the tribunal examined specific issues the non-feminist manager had brought against the respondent. Examples included Ms Larmour belittling him, providing an unfair performance review, and imposing an improvement plan. Yet, in each instance, the tribunal ruled that no less favourable treatment had occurred. Furthermore, they held the respondent’s actions had nothing to do with his sex or belief.

Therefore, each claim was dismissed, and since the tribunal deemed the claims unreasonable, they ordered the claimant to pay £20,000 towards the respondent’s legal fees.

Claim Compensation with Redmans

If, unlike the non-feminist manager, you believe you’ve faced victimisation or discrimination in the workplace, contact us today. Redmans Solicitors are experts in the employment law sector and can advise on your possible next steps following a consultation.

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